Skip to main content

Full text of "Gordon H. Clark"

See other formats

Religion, Reason and Revelation 

Gordon Haddon Clark 

The Trinity Foundation 

Religion, Reason and Revelation 

Copyright © 1961 

Lois A. Zeller and Elizabeth Clark George 
Second edition Copyright © 1995 
John W. Robbins 
Third edition Copyright © 2012 
Laura K. Juodaitis 

Cover art by Godwell Chan ( ) 

All rights reserved. 

Published by The Trinity Foundation 
Post Office Box 68 
Unicoi, Tennessee 37692 

ISBN-10: 1-891777-30-0 
ISBN- 13: 978-1-891777-30-1 



Foreword to the Second Edition 

Is Christianity a Religion? 

Unity and Multiformity 
A Disconcerting Disjunction 

The Psychological Approach 

Emotion versus Intellect 
Preconceived Notions 
John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards 
Does Description Explain? 

Does Description Discover? 
Description and Presupposition 
Integration of Personality 

The Comparative Method 

Is God Essential to Religion? 

The Hunting of the Snark 
Common Human Needs 
Meaningful Words 


Definition of Christianity 
The Religions 
Christian Conversion 

Faith and Reason 

Reason and Faith 

Natural Theology 
The Cosmological Argument 
David Hume and Charles Hodge 

Reason without Faith 

Early Irreligion 
Immanuel Kant 
Hegel and His Critics 
Absolute Ignorance 

Faith without Reason 

Types of Mysticism 
Karl Marx 
Soren Kierkegaard 
Friedrich Nietzsche 
William James 
Emil Brunner 

Faith and Reason 

Popular Religion 
The Analysis of Personality 
T rust and Assent 
The Reformed Faith 
Definition of Reason 

Inspiration and Language 

The Biblical Claims 
The Dictation Objection 

Contemporary Theories 

Religious Language 

Naturalism and Behaviorism 
The Symbolic Theory 

Theistic Linguistics 

Theology versus Language 
Literal Language 

Logical Positivism 

Revelation and Morality 

Ethical Disagreement 


The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number 
The Good 

Values in Experience 

Dewey and Instrumentalism 

Changing Morality 
Values in Experience 
Security and Scientific Ethics 
Evil Ideals 

Is Life Worth Living? 

Concluding Criticism 

Christian Ethics 

The Divine Legislator 
Ethics and Theology 
Divine Sovereignty 
A Contemporary Example 
Abraham, the Father of Us All 

God and Evil 

Historical Exposition 
Free Will 

Reformation Theology 
Gill's Exegesis 

Responsibility and Free Will 
The Will of God 

Appeal to Ignorance 
Responsibility and Determinism 

Distortions and Cautions 
Deo Soli Gloria 

Crisis of Our Time 
Intellectual Ammunition 


In the midst of all the apologetical nonsense prevalent in the church today, 
Religion, Reason and Revelation is a breath of fresh air with its clear and 
Biblical defense of Christianity. With the majority of Christians, both Reformed 
and Evangelical, following the apologetic of the “angelic doctor” of the Roman 
Catholic Church-State, Thomas Aquinas, and others in the Reformed camp 
following the presuppositionalism of Cornelius Van Til, with its analogical truth 
and acceptance of paradox and antimony, Biblical Christianity has been left 
defenseless. God is faithful, however, and in the anti-intellectual 20th Century he 
raised up Gordon H. Clark, who defended Christianity on the basis of the Word of 
God alone. In 2004 Religion, Reason and Revelation was combined with 
Introduction to Christian Philosophy and Three Types of Religious Philosophy 
in Christian Philosophy, Volume 4 of The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark. It 
went out of print as a single volume. The Trinity Foundation is pleased to publish 
Dr. Clark’s apologetical masterpiece as a single volume again. 

Thomas W. Juodaitis 
August 2011 

Foreword to the Second Edition 

R eligion, Reason and Revelation is one of the greatest defenses of the 
Christian faith ever written. It is a model of scholarship and analysis; in it Dr. 
Clarkrefutes both the broad philosophical movements that oppose Christianity and 
the specific contentions of many modern authors. It is astonishing to realize just 
how comprehensive a defense this book is: Clark devastates the superficial notion 
that Christianity is not unique - that Christianity belongs to a category called 
Religion - a notion that is the foundation of all ecumenical movements over the 
last two centuries; he eviscerates logical positivism and pragmatism; he 
emasculates empiricism, rationalism, and materialism; and he dispassionately 
dismemebers and disposes of Thomas, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, 
Bentham, Nietzsche, and Dewey. 

Religion, Reason and Revelation, however, does not conclude with the 
philosophical destruction of non-Christian philosophies; Clark goes on to 
show how Biblical Christianity answers the questions and solves the 
problems - including the problem of evil - that other philosophies and 
religions leave unanswered and unsolved. The result is a splendid feast for 
the mind and a triumphant defense of Christian truth. Religion, Reason and 
Revelation well deserves its reputation as an apologetical masterpiece. Let 
both the student and the teacher read these pages and learn how the faith 
ought to be defended. 

John W. Robbins 
June 1995 

Is Christianity a Religion? 

Is there such a thing as religion of which Christianity is one manifestation? 
This question is important for two reasons: Its answer will influence and reveal 
what a person believes Christianity to be; and on a broader scale it will determine 
the method that ought to be used in formulating a philosophy of religion. 
Therefore let us ask the question a second time in a slightly different form. Is 
Christianity a species of a genus? Whether this is answered affirmatively or 
negatively, certain further problems are introduced. If Christianity is a species of 
the genus religion, how is religion to be defined and what are Christianity’s 
differentiating characteristics? If it is not, what sort of philosophy of religion can 
there be, and what sort of philosophy of Christianity can there be? Apparently the 
first step in examining these questions must be the definition of religion. What is 

Unity and Multiformity 

Religion is familiar to the common man in every age and nation. He 
performs its simple or complicated rites; he believes its doctrines. 
However justified may be the orthodox complaint or the atheistic exultation 
that a particular religion is losing its hold on the people, the ineradicable 
experiences still remain a familiar force. Among the learned too, it is a 
familiar subject of discussion. Of the making of many books on the general 
subject of Religion, the Psychology of Religion, the Philosophy of Religion, 
and the History of Religion, there is no end. But although religion is a 
phenomenon as multiform as it is familiar, both these characteristics 
contribute to the difficulty of understanding it. 

No one denies the multiformity. There is Christianity, and there is 
Mohammedanism; and further there are Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the 
religions of the interior of Africa, and of the isles of the seas. Yet 
notwithstanding their great differences, they are all popularly unified under 
the single term religion. Can such a unification survive scholarly analysis? 
Is it really possible to gather all these under one definition so that they can 
be discussed together as one subject? In botany, for example, the 
Nightshade, the Indian Cucumber-root, the Bellwort, the Lily of the Valley, 
Solomon's Seal, Asparagus, and the Star of Bethlehem are all gathered 
together and discussed under the Lily Family. All the members of the Lily 
Family have certain characteristics in common, characteristics which tie 
them together in one Family and at the same time differentiate them from 

other Families. Cannot the same thing be done for religions? 

As may be expected, this way of looking at the matter has been tried. 
Not only so, but it is the usual method of procedure. It seems to be only 
common sense. For example, Winston L. King, in his Introduction to 
Religion, writes that religions are one as well as many. Although he makes 
the obscure denial that they have any common denominator "of a neutral 
sort," there is "some sort of unity" and there are "actual likenesses." At the 
end of eighty pages he concludes, "We have been trying to use the term 
'religion' as well as 'religions' with the confidence that it has some 
distinguishing meaning." Such phrases as these in an eighty-page attempt to 
define religion indicate the presence of difficulties. Apparently botany is an 
easier subject than religion. But another author shows more confidence. 

Professor William E. Hocking, in Living Religions and a World Faith, 
commences by asserting, "In its nature religion is universal and one." As a 
matter of fact, Hocking means more by this assertion than that religion is 
one in the sense that all the members of the Lily Family are one Family, 
for he goes further and complains that the plurality of religions is a scandal 
to the religious man himself, to the philosopher, and to the statesman who 
wishes to unify his community. But why should it be scandal? The plurality 
of lilies is no scandal to the botanist. Should the plurality of religions be 
scandalous to the philosopher? And however scandalous the plurality of 
religions may be to the "statesman" who wishes to unify his community, 
this very plurality may seem a blessing to freedom-loving individuals who 
think that some societies have been too thoroughly unified already. What 
can religion be, if it is a more perfect unity than the generic unities of 
botany? Why should the unity of religion exclude specific differences? 

In a later volume, The Coming World Civilization, Professor Hocking 
repeats his vigorous assertions of unity. In the fifth section of the book, to 
justify the identification of all religions in essence, he argues that 
"affirmation is not exclusion" (137). According to Hocking, the Christian 
faith, and a fortiori the Buddhist doctrine, do not offer themselves as 
hypotheses competing with other hypotheses. Each one says, This is a Way 
to peace; and such an affirmation does not exclude other Ways. In a sense 
there is an Only Way, but it is not the Only Way of a particular religion. It 
is a universal way. The essence of the precepts and doctrines that mystics 
in all religions have discerned is the same. The agreements are not even 
mere similarities; they are identities. Thus the Only Way is not the Way 

that marks off one religion from another, but "it is the Way already present 
in all.... The several universal religions are already fused together, so to 
speak, at the top." HI 

Naturally such a view stimulates many questions. For example, it may be 
asked, Does Hocking base his statements on an empirical study of the 
several religions? Is this what the religions assert or admit? How does 
Hocking obtain the conclusion that the doctrines of all religions are 
essentially identical? If this is only what some mystics in every religion 
say, can the student of religion accept the mystical evaluation and 
disregard what other members of the same religions assert? It is 
undeniable at least that Hocking's principle, "affirmation is not exclusion," is 
in conflict with the explicit teachings of some religions. Christ's statement 
in the Gospel, "No one comes to the Father except through me," is 
decisively exclusive. Similarly, the Apostle said, "There is no other name 
under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Hocking 
would have to hold that Christ is not essential to Christianity. But of course 
this criticism is premature, for at the beginning it seems reasonable - 
especially for one who is writing a book on religion - to assume that there 
must be some sort of unity, either a generic unity or some still deeper 
kind, that makes religion a single subject of discussion. 

A Disconcerting Disjunction 

Promising and even necessary though this principle may appear, its 
application is already seen to be attended with great difficulty. Perhaps the 
very familiarity of religious experience is one cause of its stubborn defiance 
of analysis. At any rate, a comparison of the many volumes on religion 
discloses a disconcerting disjunction. Either, in spite of the similarity of 
titles, the authors are not writing about the same subject, or, in spite of 
the length of the books and their learned vocabulary, they do not know what 
they are writing about. 

The first half of this disjunction reflects those authors who - like King - 
frankly, courageously, and commendably formulate an explicit definition of 
religion. A frank attempt is reasonable because one expects a writer to 
state what subject he intends to study. But a quick survey of these 
definitions shows that the more definite the authors are, the more 
obviously they are not talking about the same thing. King virtually includes 
a belief in God in his definition - at least he spells Object of devotion with 

a capital 0, and further emphasizes it in the following chapter (74ff.). Julian 
Huxley, on the other hand, in Religion Without Revelation, says that the 
essential religious reality is not God, but a sense of the sacred, which, like 
the feeling of hunger or the emotion of anger, is irreducible. Although this 
latter definition is not so definite in its affirmation as in its denial, it is still 
definite enough to see that King and Huxley are not talking about the same 
thing when they use the term religion. There are other humanistic 
definitions of religion that may be taken as vague or definite, depending on 
how one looks at them. The Humanist Manifesto constitutes religion as 
those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. 
Now this may be vague and meaningless; but if it is taken at literal face 
value and assigned an intelligible meaning, an interesting question comes to 
the fore. Is not an appendectomy humanly significant? Then it follows that 
appendectomies are religious exercises. It is evident, therefore, that what 
the humanists call religion is not the same thing that other authors are 
discussing. Once more, William James was definite enough when he spoke 
of religion as the experiences of men in their solitude; but other writers are 
definite in defining religion as social. And the devout worshiper in any of the 
several religions might not like any of these definitions. Clearly what one 
man calls religion, another does not recognize as such. The more definite 
the definition is, the more clearly the writers are not writing on the same 

This difficulty gives rise to the second half of the disjunction above: 
Some writers do not know what they are writing about. They recognize the 
impossibility of defining religion and rely on its familiarity to satisfy the 
reader. L.W. Grensted, in The Psychology of Religion, remarks in his 
Foreword that the subject is nebulous and ill-defined; no one part of it has 
any clear logical or scientific priority; "there is always a lurking doubt 
whether religion is a proper study for psychology at all." And a few pages 
later he admits, "The definition of religion is impossible.... Thus the only 
means of saying what we mean by religion must be empirical, descriptive, 
and accumulative. We must in fact return to.. .what ordinary folk understand 
by religious behavior."[2] This initial admission of failure, however, does not 
prevent the gentleman from writing his book - a humorous paradox that he 
himself seems to enjoy. 

Now, there are powerful reasons for accepting the position that religion 
cannot be defined. In fact, such is the main conclusion of this chapter. It 

will be shown definitely that we cannot with confidence, to repeat a phrase 
from King, assume that religion has a distinguishable meaning. This 
conclusion sometimes leads to the clear-sighted muddle-headedness of 
Grensted. There is, however, another alternative to be mentioned later. But, 
for the moment, and particularly at the opening of the discussion, one 
should not merely assume the impossibility of defining religion. It is better 
to examine the two chief methods used in attempting to frame a definition; 
and, if in doing so, we are fairly convinced that the problem is insoluble, we 
shall have learned the precise reasons for the failure. 

The Psychological Approach 

In general, two methods have been used to distinguish religion from other 
subjects of study. The second method - based on examining the 
multiformity of Mohammedanism, Shintoism, Brahminism, and so on - may 
be named the comparative method. But first to be considered is the 
psychological approach, based on the intimate familiarity of the experience. 

Emotion versus Intellect 

There are many persons, both scholars and others, who believe that the 
essence of religion, the common factor in all religions, is some sort of 
emotional experience. In one way or another they minimize the intellectual 
content. Although Hocking speaks of a search for righteousness, and 
righteousness no doubt is something other than emotion, Hocking's stress 
falls on the passionateness of the search, rather than on the contents of 
righteousness. He does not make an outright denial that there are 
intellectual factors in religion, but he asserts that no theoretical proposition 
is true apart from feeling. This seems to imply that even the truth of 
mathematics depends on passion. Perhaps he would not say that all passion 
is religious or commendable, but passion is so much the medium of religion 
that whatever is of passion "tends to be" religious. King also emphasizes 
the emotional nature of religion and disparages the intellectual. In his 
Foreword he refers to "the bare bones of the intellectual statements of 
religious dogma" as opposed to "the vital phenomena of breathing and 
moving religions themselves." 

Or, consider a little more at length the views of another well-known 
scholar who places the emphasis on emotion. James Bissett Pratt, in The 
Religious Consciousness, aware of the difficulties in framing a definition, 
admits that in many respects his own definition is probably as bad as any 

other; but he holds that one word in it hits the mark pretty accurately. 
Religion, he says, is a serious attitude toward those powers which people 
believe control their destinies. It is the word attitude which he stresses, 
and by which he plays down the intellect. In his study of conversion he 
states that "the essential thing about conversion is the unification of 
character," and that this is "the really important and the only essential part 
of it..." (123). This involves will, emotion, and thought, but it is primarily 
"moral." "Nor is the intellectual side of the process to be neglected, though 
it is frankly the least noticeable of the three. In most cases it seems to 
play but a negative part." 

Preconceived Notions 

At the risk of anticipating too much of the later argument, it might be 
best even at this point to question whether all unification of purpose or 
character is religious. As one example of conversion, Pratt chooses the 
experience of a certain Ardigo who renounced the Roman Catholic 
priesthood to become a positivistic scientist. Now, this is no doubt a 
conversion of a sort; but is it a religious conversion? Of course the answer 
to this question depends on one's definition of religion. Pratt defends his 
choice of examples on the ground that he has not permitted preconceived 
notions derived from Christian theology to influence him. Presumably to 
choose as examples of conversion only those instances which accord with 
Christian theology would be to forfeit the claim to scientific objectivity. At 
the same time, although Pratt may not have selected his material from the 
standpoint of any one of the well-known world religions, he nonetheless has 
made his selection on the basis of other preconceived principles, which can 
be thought of as his private religion. From a logical standpoint, it is equal 
whether one's assumptions are philosophical or theological, Christian or not. 
If it is reprehensible to operate on Christian presuppositions, is it any less 
so on other presuppositions? The only difference would seem to be that the 
writer with Christian principles is probably more aware of the fact, while 
the scientific writer sometimes claims that he has no preconceived notions 
at all. In other words, Pratt - attempting to avoid the bias of a Christian 
view of conversion - does not seem to be aware of his own bias in 
assuming Ardigo's conversion was a religious conversion and that the 
essence of religion is the unification of character. 

John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards 

Pratt's interest in conversion further reveals the importance he assigns 
to emotion. In addition to the doubtful case of Ardigo, he relates the more 
obviously religious experiences of David Brainerd and John Bunyan. In these 
two instances the process was essentially the same. When they began to 
think of the condition of their souls, their previous neutral state of mind 
gave way to increasing depression. They felt themselves entirely helpless. 
Desirous of salvation, they were convicted of sin and could not rid 
themselves of temptations. The impossibility of recommending themselves 
to God by their unaided human efforts increased their despair. Then 
suddenly there came a great peace of mind. And, concludes Pratt, "the 
whole drama was one of feeling, and all that was accomplished was the 
substitution of one feeling for another" (147). Feeling is further elevated in 
the following chapter by a serious misinterpretation of Protestant theology. 
From the thesis that man by his own efforts cannot satisfy God's 
requirements, Pratt draws the erroneous conclusion that "the attention of 
everyone desiring salvation - since it was vain to center it on thought or 
deed or will - was inevitably fixed on feeling. Feeling indeed could help - 
the feeling of one's own devilishness and despair - and nothing else could" 
(149). With this interpretation of the situation Pratt disparages Bunyan's 

To straighten out Pratt's misunderstandings of Protestant theology would 
complicate the discussion too greatly. One point that lies on the surface is 
enough to mention. Since the Protestant thesis is that man by his own 
efforts cannot satisfy God's requirements, it would follow that feeling and 
emotion could be of no more help than thought or deed or will. Thus the 
need of gracious divine help would of itself no more require attention to 
feelings than to thoughts and deeds. However, rather than to correct Pratt's 
views of evangelical religion, it is more to the point to see how he uses his 
interpretation to disparage Bunyan's conversion. He complains that Bunyan 
gained no new insight through his experience; no change of character or will 
had been wrought; no new unification of purpose had been achieved. Now, 
this complaint involves Pratt in a curious inconsistency. If no change of will 
or character had been wrought, Pratt should not have included this 
experience in a list of conversions, for he had previously said that "the 
essential thing about conversion is the unification of character" (123). As, in 
the case of Ardigo, Pratt stumbled upon a conversion that was not religious 
(at least in the popular sense of religious); so here he blunders and 

contradicts himself by selecting an experience that is religious, but on his 
own showing is not a conversion. The confusion is evidence of a poor 

Furthermore, Pratt is not justified in his disparagement of Bunyan's 
emotions, even if they do not constitute a conversion. From a psychological 
point of view, a point of view that stresses the description of phenomena 
and boasts that theology has had no influence on its conclusions, a 
sequence of emotions is as legitimate a subject of study as the unification 
of character. In the descriptive method disparagement is out of place, 
whether the subject be emotions or nuclear physics. Particularly for one 
who thinks of religion as primarily an attitude or feeling, Bunyan ought to 
be a most happy example of religious experience. But his contemptuous 
style rather indicates that Pratt surreptitiously accords more value to the 
intellectual contents of religion than he explicitly admits and that he 
evaluates Bunyan from a position that does not lack theological bias. 

Evidence of this one-sided procedure is again seen in his reference to 
Jonathan Edwards. This great New England Puritan is also assimilated to the 
general phrase that "feeling could indeed help.. .and nothing else could." Now, 
it is true, as Pratt points out in his footnote (150), that Edwards said 
"religion consists much in holy affection," and no one who reads Edwards' 
explanation could disagree. But first, note that Edwards said much; he did 
not say that religion or even conversion consists altogether in affections. 
Then, second, the term affection in Edwards does not mean what Pratt 
says it means. Pratt had said that "it was vain to center it on thought or 
deed or will." But for Edwards the term affection includes the will, and in 
fact has more to do with will than with pure feeling. Third, Edwards spends 
most of his book in warning his readers not to trust their feelings. And 
fourth, far from saying that nothing but feeling can be of help, far from 
belittling intellectual content, Jonathan Edwards put great emphasis on 
doctrine. Indeed, his stress on theology is more frequently the object of 
secularistic displeasure than his actual or even his alleged approval of 
emotions. It would seem, therefore, that these inaccuracies are the result 
of a poor method and of a prior decision to define religion in terms of 

On the other hand, one who wishes to lay some or even great emphasis 
on the intellectual side of religion need not conclude that it is worthless to 
study the emotions. Jonathan Edwards studied them and on the basis of his 

theology gave certain warnings against them. William James' intensely 
interesting Varieties of Religious Experience proceeds on a different 
theological basis. The New Testament itself, of course from its own point 
of view, describes the very different emotional circumstances of a number 
of conversions. But one's evaluation depends on one's theology. Doubtless 
religion includes emotions; but it does not follow that will and intellect are 
negative factors, unessential, least noticeable, and bare bones. 

Does Description Explain? 

In general, whatever the value or even the undisputed importance of such 
psychological studies, one may wonder whether strictly psychological 
descriptions are of much help in explaining religion or even in discovering 
its nature. First, as to explanation. To be sure, the philosophy of Logical 
Positivism holds that description is explanation. No statement of causality 
is permitted; no statement of purpose is permitted; no possibility is 
allowed of saying that a phenomenon must be as it is; not even an 
evaluation is permitted; the only legitimate statement is that the 
phenomenon is as it is observed. Since a critique of Logical Positivism 
cannot be undertaken here, it must suffice to point out that the Logical 
Positivists constantly violate their prescription. Besides that, the 
identification of description and explanation is tantamount to denying 
explanation. No doubt these facts are as they are described: A golf ball 
rises and falls; a painting or a sonata is pleasing to me; Congress enacts a 
new law. But even more than the description of the event, we want an 
explanation of it. Why did this event occur? Under what generalization can 
it be subsumed? What was its purpose and what will be its effects? And 
should we, if possible, try to repeat it or to prevent its recurrence? The 
Logical Positivists go beyond their own principles when they limit 
explanation to description, for the limitation itself is not a description of 
anything observable other than their own conduct. Admittedly, description 
provides some elements that contribute to an understanding; at least 
description provides material to be explained. But it is prima facie 
unreasonable to confuse the two. 

Now, if understanding goes beyond the range of description, should we 
explain religion as the opiate of the people? Or should we be a little less 
radical and explain it as the result of parental compulsion and social 
pressure? Or, again, is the cause of religion either some innate aesthetic 

response to the sublime or an abject fear of the unknown? Or, finally, does 
an adequate explanation transcend these factors and demand God as the 
cause? No psychological description can give any one of these answers nor 
choose from among them. 

Does Description Discover? 

Just above it was questioned whether the psychological method could 
explain religion or even discover its nature. There are several reasons why 
psychology cannot discover what religion is. One reason, but not the 
deepest or most independent, is that the descriptive accounts of emotions 
are concerned only with surface phenomena. As the following considerations 
will show, these descriptions do not grasp what is essentially religious. 
That the same emotions are found in different religions would not disturb 
but would rather be welcomed by a writer like Hocking, who insists on the 
unity of all religion and is not interested in distinguishing one religion from 
another; that there are different emotions found in the same religion might 
merely result in increasing the difficulty of finding the one complex 
emotional state by which religion is to be defined; but what is fatal to this 
method of procedure is the fact that these emotions are found in 
experiences that are not usually regarded as religious at all. For example, 
love is currently emphasized by some religious writers as the religious 
emotion par excellence. It has been regarded as the sum and substance, 
the inner nature and deepest spring of true religion, and the essence of God 
himself. But when left undefined, the emotion of love is hardly restricted to 
religious situations. So far as the emotion per se is concerned, the 
psychological description would be the same, no matter what the causes, 
the object, the circumstances, or the value might be. Some love is quite 
human; some is irreligious or even unholy. Yet, if religious love is to be 
defined so as to exclude the unwanted examples, the procedure becomes 
logically circular. Love is first used to define religion and then an 
independent concept of religion is used to differentiate among loves. Then 
again, not only is it impossible to confine a given emotion like love (or a 
complex of emotions) to religious experience, it is equally impossible to 
confine religious experience to a given emotion. The emotion of anger is 
usually thought of as an anti-religious emotion, but Jesus' anger (Mark 3:5) 
was pre-eminently religious. Such considerations as these show that no 
purely psychological description of experiences, no emotion, no particular 

state of the affective consciousness, nor any combination of them, can be 
singled out as the uniform and definitive element in religion. There can be a 
sequence of a calm mind, then depression, with elation following - as Pratt 
notices in the case of John Bunyan; but the same sequence occurs regularly 
on election night in the case of politicians also. There is nothing 
distinctively religious about emotions. 

Description and Presupposition 
The keener writers recognize the deficiencies of purely psychological 
description. Grensted says openly, 

Ultimate questions about the real existence of the constituents of 
our experience, in their own right and apart from their setting in that 
experience, cannot be decided or even discussed by psychological 
methods.... Psychology cannot even choose its own objectives, which 
are selected by the psychologists on the basis of values of which 
psychology can give no complete account.[3] 

Nonetheless, there are a few, even though they are not professedly 
Logical Positivists, who write as if psychological description answers all 
questions. Yet it will be found that their volumes, no less than the works of 
the better authors, contain many presuppositions and judgments of value 
that cannot be obtained by observation. At the very beginning, though these 
writers do not recognize it, a normative or non-descriptive principle is 
needed for the selection of what to describe. It is very plausible to argue 
that no one should philosophize about religion before he describes the 
phenomena which call for explanation. The facts, so it is said, must 
precede the theory. But the trouble is that a descriptive procedure can 
never isolate what must be described. A theory must precede the choice of 
facts. Pure description could never decide to place the emphasis on emotion 
rather than on intellection. According to the vague popular connotation of 
the term, religion is a most complex phenomenon. Some religious services 
are quite emotional and the people shout and sing, stomp on the floor, wave 
their arms, and act in a most undignified manner. Other people, like the 
Presbyterians and Puritans, used to sit quietly trying to understand a two- 
hour doctrinal sermon. There are groups also, both within and without the 
sphere of Christendom, who limit themselves almost entirely to an 
elaborate ritual. And still others equate religion with social service. 

Therefore only a non-observational judgment of value could motivate the 
assertion that the intellectual tenets of a religion are not worth 
investigating. And only the same a priori judgment could select which part 
of the complex phenomenon to describe. 

Each author therefore decides what he thinks is important and significant, 
whether it be ritual, dogma, or emotion. Such a decision cannot be avoided, 
but it should not be hidden. It should be made consciously. It should not be 
put forward as an objective, descriptive discovery. The most deceiving and 
the most deceived author is the one who thinks he is simply describing 
what is there. The there itself cannot be selected without presuppositions. 
If a given emotion or some other affective state of consciousness, however 
complicated, is selected as the essence of religion, the implication is that 
another state is not religious. Thus religion is sharply separated from sport 
or politics or other human activities considered non-religious. This is the 
psychological counterpart of the common distinction between Sunday 
religion and weekday practice. Undoubtedly there are persons who have a 
Sunday religion for public display, if indeed it can be called their religion. 
Similarly there may be persons whose professed religion is some isolated 
emotion. But could there not be others whose religion permeates all their 
activities? For them, politics, prayer, and procreation are all religious duties. 
Is it possible to bring these two types of religion under one description? By 
what right is the latter ruled out when the attempt at isolation is made? 
Obviously, therefore, the psychologist must have a philosophy of religion of 
his own which controls his psychology of religion, and it is this deeper 
material which the present chapter believes to be the more significant. 

Integration of Personality 

To this point the discussion has emphasized the view that emotion is the 
essence of religion. However, this restriction does not do justice to the 
psychological method nor to the general exclusion of intellectual definitions. 
The explanation of religion as a non-rational experience allows of another 
possibility - a possibility that was evident in the material from Pratt, but 
which has not yet been examined. Pratt spoke about the unification of 
character and used the secular conversion of Ardigo as an example. This is 
a theme popular with the modern humanists. Confining religion to one 
emotion, such as Friedrich Schleiermacher's feeling of dependence, they 
say, is too narrow a view; and though religious experience may sometimes 

be characterized by this feeling, other equally religious experience may not. 
A sense of dependence is not essential to religion. The humanists generally 
therefore try to locate religion in the more universal needs of man - not 
the non-religious needs of food and shelter, but in particular the need of 
integrating one's scattered and conflicting impulses, emotions, and desires. 
This means that religion is the process of achieving a unified, coherent, and 
effective personality. The consciousness of sin, as the Christians call it, is 
the consciousness of failure to achieve this unified self, and redemption is 
the subsequent success. But success is not dependent on Christian ideas. 
This was the mistake of Protestant Liberalism, commonly called 
Modernism. Rejecting traditional theology, this religious movement still 
sought the solution of life's problems within a Christian framework. But 
this restriction is inconsistent with the substitution of religious experience 
for an authoritative book. Humanism, consistently empirical, insists that 
integration of character is often obtained by other methods. If we should 
examine all the methods of successful integration, it will be clear that 
Christianity is not unique or even superior. The main goods are the pursuit 
of truth, the creation of beauty, and the realization of love and friendship. 
Whatever methods are used to attain these goods may be equally called 
religious, if one wishes to speak of religion. 

There are two chief difficulties in this humanistic thesis. The first is the 
establishment of truth, beauty, and friendship as goods. Nietzsche denied 
that truth is always good. Can humanism, especially a tentative and 
relativistic humanism, defend itself against Friedrich Nietzsche's 
arguments? Perhaps the good is even less to be found in beauty and 
friendship. Is it possible then on humanistic presuppositions to justify these 
preferences or indeed to show that any definite line of conduct is good or 
evil? This question, since it raises the general problem of ethics, will be 
examined in a later chapter. The point here simply is that it is a difficult 
question. It is so difficult that sometimes the humanists shy away from it 
and embrace another difficulty. All the more do they shy away because the 
selection of particular goods (such as truth and beauty) and the stress laid 
by the humanists on society, on cooperation, on collectivism - leading them 
at times to speak even of reverence for the social good - is inconsistent 
with their view of religion. 

If personal integration is the essence of religion, if - as one of their 
number says - the empirical method cannot demonstrate that the non- 

Christian solution is inferior to the Christian, if therefore true religion is 
just wholehearted absorption in whatever envisioned greatness empirically 
brings integrity of selfhood (and the humanists use all these phrases), then 
it follows that the integration of purposes, emotions, and sentiments 
achieved by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin cannot by any empirical method 
be judged inferior to any other. These two dictators could say with as much 
truth as the Apostle Paul, "This one thing I do." All three men were 
characterized by complete unity of mind. The examples of misers and 
hermits who also have achieved great integration of emotions and 
sentiments are only slightly less embarrassing to this view of religion. 

The disadvantage of this attempt to define religion should now be clear. 
The definition is so broad and vague that it covers an unmanageable variety 
of experience. The Hindu mystic, the Apostle Paul, the dictator, and the 
miser are equally perfect examples of religion. But while they are 
undoubtedly equally perfect examples of integral personality, the types of 
personality are so incompatible with each other that if one is called good, 
another must be called evil. No one, not even a humanist, would admit that 
he has no preference among these manners of living. And in this case, one 
cannot say tout court that integration of personality is good. This 
conclusion is an essential point in the message of a Christian evangelist. 
Many of the people to whom he preaches are integrated personalities: That 
is just what is the matter with them. Their desires and interests are 
thoroughly harmonized into a naturalistic system of values. They are 
altogether satisfied with themselves. No sense of guilt disturbs their 
equanimity. The Christian message must destroy this integration; and even 
if the message does not succeed in providing them with as perfectly 
harmonized a substitute, the semi-integration so produced is better than 
the previous complete integration. 

The psychological method therefore fails to discover, to define, and to 
explain religion; and at the same time it fails to justify its claim to 
scientific impartiality. It is not by pure description that psychology 
overemphasizes emotion: This is a normative judgment. And it is a 
judgment which precludes distinguishing between religion and other 
emotional experiences like politics. The controlling influence of non- 
descriptive, philosophical presuppositions is also revealed by the 
disparagement of certain types of conversion. Disparagement is obviously 
evaluative. If, now, these presuppositions are made definite, and specific 

values are elevated above others, the general problem of ethics is 
inescapable. But if specific values are left vague and every type of 
integration is allowed, the general problem of ethics is evaded because 
incompatible types of life are put on the same level. Since this method 
results in these confusions, since the terms are left without definite 
meaning, it seems therefore that some other method is imperative. 

The Comparative Method 

The ideal of classifying religions as the members of the Lily Family are 
classified in botany is too attractive to be discarded because of the failure 
of one attempt. Another method of approaching the problem is the method 
of comparative religions. If similar emotions blossom in different religions, 
and divergent emotions within one religion, and all of them without benefit 
of any religion, perhaps the nature of religion is to be found in its 
intellectual aspect. Surely the systematic exclusion of the "bare bones" of 
intellectual content is an extreme position. A study of the beliefs or 
theology of a religion is indispensable to an understanding of it. Only by 
grasping the doctrinal or intellectual system of each faith can one avoid 
vague and misleading abstractions. And in spite of the first impression of 
incompatible differences among religions, must there not be some basic 
similarities? Otherwise, why should they all be called religions? 

Is God Essential to Religion? 

At first sight it would seem that there is a greater variety of beliefs than 
of emotions, and that the nature of religion can never reside in any 
theological formulation; but the hope of comparative studies is of course to 
find in this welter of beliefs some common denominator, some minimal 
consensus, some general agreement. No doubt Mohammedanism and 
Christianity have different conceptions of God, but they both believe in 
some sort of deity. Perhaps then this is the common element and essential 
nature of all religion.[4] 

Karl L. Stolz in The Psychology of Religious Living argues that humanism 
is not a religion because it "invests the word 'religion' with a connotation 
that is absolutely foreign to it.... A godless religion is a contradiction in 
terms" (75-76). For the moment let us grant that Stolz and King are right in 
denying that a religion can be godless. We are now confronted with the 
philosophy of Spinoza and with the superstitions of savage tribes. Did 

Spinoza have a religion? Did Spinoza have a God? Some people have called 
him an atheist; and if this is the truth, he could not have had a religion in 
Stolz's sense of the word. But others have called him a Gottbetrunkener 
Mensch - a God-intoxicated man. He spoke frequently of God, of Deus sive 
Natura. Therefore he must have been very religious. Unfortunately, however, 
if God and nature are identified, and if Spinoza's God is the universe itself, 
can it be said that he believed in God? Isn't God something other than the 
universe? What is meant by the term God? Or, to turn from the 
complicated philosophy of Spinoza to the superstitions of uncivilized 
peoples, clearly whatever god the Inca religion acknowledged or whatever 
gods are worshipped in the various animistic cults, they are not the God of 
Christianity. If the term God is so broadened as to include the usage of 
both Spinoza and the animists, the term and the definition of religion in 
which it is used become meaningless. Therefore, if religion is to be defined 
in terms of belief, perhaps it must be a belief in spirits, or merely in 
immortality, or some other widespread belief that examination will show to 
be the uniform ingredient of every religion. 

Yet this expedient of substituting the more inclusive term spirit for the 
more definite term God faces exactly the same difficulties. Spirit would 
have to be defined, and one would have to question whether Spinoza's sub 
specie aeternitatis could properly be included under the notion of 
immortality. But beyond these detailed difficulties, there are decisive 
reasons why the method itself, the very search for a common element, is 

The Hunting of the Snark 

The method is unsatisfactory because it requires at the outset the 
knowledge it aims to obtain at the end. In order to discover the common 
element in all religions, it would first be necessary to distinguish religions 
from all non-religious phenomena. If there were an authoritative list of 
religions, a student could begin to examine them for a common element. 
But before the common element is known, how could an authoritative list 
be compiled? If Lewis Carroll tells Alice to examine all snarks and find the 
common nature of the snark, Alice (at least in her waking moments) would 
not know whether all the objects before her were snarks, or even whether 
any of them were. Now, we are not in a much better position than Alice 
would be. In our attempt to find the common nature of religion, we believe 

we are safe in assuming that Christianity and Mohammedanism are 
religions. But is Hinayana Buddhism a religion? If it is, then a belief in God 
is not essential to religion; but if a belief in God is essential, then this form 
of Buddhism is not a religion. Should we examine Buddhism or not? Should 
we include Buddhism on our list? To answer this question, one would first 
have to know the essential nature of religion, and yet this essential nature 
is the still unknown object of search. It does not help to advise us to begin 
with a smaller undisputed list. In the first place, there is no undisputed list 
at all. Until religion is known, nothing can be placed on the list. And in the 
second place, even if we had a small undisputed list, its common elements 
could not be assumed to be the nature of religion, for with religion (even 
more than with botany) the common element of a longer list is not likely to 
be the common element first observed in the shorter list. 

Nor is Buddhism the only or most embarrassing difficulty. Consider 
Communism. Ostensibly it is the enemy of all religion, fundamentally and 
vociferously anti-religious. Indeed, it is religiously anti-religious. Its anti- 
religious zeal makes it a religion for its adherents. Should the student of 
religion therefore list Communism as one of the world religions and search 
for the common denominator of Communism, Christianity, and Buddhism? 
How could the student decide what to do? Unless he first knows what 
religion is, he will not know whether or not to examine Communism along 
with the others in the hope of discovering the essential nature of religion. 

In addition to this objection to the method, there is also an objection to 
the usual conclusions it offers. Let it be assumed that Christianity, 
Mohammedanism, and even Buddhism have been examined. Perhaps it is 
claimed that the common element is a belief in an Original Being. The 
phraseology in which such common elements are stated must be so general 
and is interpreted by the various religions in such incompatible and 
antagonistic ways that nothing common seems to remain but a name or 
empty form of words. Original Being for Buddhism may be Nirvana, for 
Christianity it is the Trinity; for Communism it is the atoms. But if the 
Trinity is spirit and not matter, if the atoms are matter and not spirit, and 
if Nirvana is neither, it is hard to see that there is any real element in 
common. Original Being is just a name, a name of nothing, a sound in the 

Common Human Needs 

If in answer to this criticism it be said that the three Original Beings 
perform analogous functions in the three systems, and that this function is 
a real common element, the reply will be a repetition of the argument. The 
defense often speaks of the several religions fulfilling the needs of their 
adherents, and thus the common factor in all religions is that they satisfy 
certain needs. However, this answer will not do. It will not do because the 
several religions do not agree on what a man needs. Of course there can be 
verbal agreement that men need what is good for them, but when the 
specific contents of the good or the need are spelled out, they will be found 
to differ. Does man need the Heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of 
the Father, or does man need Nirvana and personal extinction? No devout 
Christian will admit that Nirvana (or atoms) can perform the same function 
that the Trinity does; nor will the Communist or Buddhist admit that the 
Trinity can do what Nirvana or atoms can do. Only the critics who have no 
religion can so lightheartedly identify them. The adherents themselves do 
not claim that their Original Being performs the same function that is 
claimed for the Original Being of other religions. Function and need, like 
Original Being, are nothing but empty names. There is therefore no element 
in common among those phenomena that are popularly designated as 

What then is religion? Colloquially the word is applied to 
Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and Christianity. But because it is vague, it 
can be applied to Communism also. Then the definitions of religion take on 
the form of "what a man will live and die for." Such definitions are 
completely without content and do not specify any definite subject of 
scientific investigation. 

Meaningful Words 

Conversely, to have a definite and meaningful subject of study, the 
colloquial and empty word must be relinquished, and some specific contents 
must be selected. For example, the word God cannot be just any first 
principle. The Deus sive Natura of Spinoza and the God of Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob - as Pascal saw so well - are not the same thing. Nor can 
salvation mean both Nirvana and Heaven. Therefore, if we wish to use the 
word religion, we must define it particularly. We may wish to discuss 
Mohammedanism, or we may wish to discuss Christianity. In this sense 
there are religions, even though there is no religion. True, it may be difficult 

to define Christianity or Mohammedanism, but it is not impossible. We may 
have to alter the colloquial meaning somewhat in the interests of precision, 
but the technical definition will not be so far from the common meaning as 
to be absurd. At any rate, we need clear-cut concepts to avoid confusion. 
When a term like God is stretched to include every first principle that 
anybody has ever thought of - and every fetish, spirit, and superstition, 
though these are not first principles - the term means nothing. As Hegel 
insisted, every determination is a negation. Or, as Aristotle argued, a term 
not only must mean something, it also must mean not-something. After 
centuries of philosophic discussion it ought not to be necessary to defend 
the indispensability of unequivocal language, but such is the chaos in 
discussions in religion and such is the antipathy toward taking a particular 
point of view that the disastrous results of vague generalities call for 
emphasis. Let us therefore try to avoid confusion by being explicit. Most 
words in the dictionary have three, four, or even five somewhat different 
meanings; but if any word had a thousand meanings, or better, if any one 
word could stand for every other word in the dictionary, nobody could tell 
what it meant. If a word means everything, it means nothing. To have no 
definite or limited meaning is to have no meaning at all. 


From here on the discussion will proceed from the viewpoint of 
Christianity. The term Christianity is far more definite than religion. 
Christianity has certain doctrines about a personal God, Christ the 
Redeemer, Heaven and Hell, that cannot be confused with Communism, 
Mohammedanism, or Spinozism. But if definiteness of intellectual content is 
a virtue, why should one stop with just a little? Even the word Christianity 
is used colloquially in various senses, and one is forced to admit that 
professing Christians themselves often have inadequate ideas of what 
Christianity is. Surely the images, medals, beads, and other paraphernalia of 
Romanism is not the same religion as iconoclastic Puritanism. 

Definition of Christianity 

It is essential therefore to define Christianity more exactly by a specific 
doctrinal system. Romanism is not what is meant. By Christianity we shall 
mean, to use common names, what is called Calvinism. Or, to be most 
specific, the definition of Christianity shall be the articles of the 

Westminster Confession. With such a definite basis, it will no longer be 
necessary to spin dizzily in a whirlpool of equivocal disputation. Now we 
can know what we are talking about. 

Since the cause of confusion in the philosophy of religion has been empty 
and meaningless terminology, the hope now is that this avoidance of 
ambiguity will contribute to the solution of several problems. The main 
subjects - the relation of reason and faith, inspiration and revelation, the 
basis of morality - will be considered in the following chapters. An attempt 
will be made to show that, because of the basic doctrinal position, it is 
possible to arrive at definite and consistent conclusions. There is no 
hypocritical claim that the argument is without presuppositions. On the 
contrary, only because the Westminster Confession is consciously adopted 
can progress be expected. But before the main questions are put, certain 
minor points prove to be satisfactory examples of the procedure and may 
be used to conclude this introduction. 

The Religions 

First of all, a definite Christian standpoint can furnish the solution to the 
paradox of the present chapter. How can there be religions, yet no religion? 
If there is no common quality, emotional or intellectual, why are these 
phenomena uniformly classified together and called religion? Why are there 
also doubtful cases which sometimes seem to be religions and at other 
times seem to be "merely" philosophy, or maybe politics? Of course, one 
can simply appeal to the ignorance and stupidity of the populace and their 
lack of clear thought. But there is something more. The Christian answer 
begins with God's creating Adam in his own image and giving him a special 
revelation. Here was the beginning of religion. With the fall, however, and 
the resultant depravity, men became estranged from God and distorted both 
the revelation and their reaction to it. As generations came and went, these 
distortions diverged in many directions, giving rise to all forms of idolatry, 
animal worship, fetishism, and witchcraft, not to mention the more blatant 
rebellion of atheism. Thus there was no possibility of any intellectual 
content remaining the same in all these developments. The religions of 
today, therefore, are descendants of the one original religion; and because 
of this common origin, they are colloquially called religion. If the divergence 
is not so great as to obscure this origin, people do not scruple to call the 
phenomena religions. Thus Islam is always called a religion because of its 

inheritance from Judaism. When the divergence becomes greater, hesitation 
and perplexity set in. This is seen where people wonder whether Buddhism 
is a religion or merely a philosophy. And if it becomes extreme, people will 
usually be quite sure that it is not religion. But logical classification fails 
because the divergences have occurred through no logical principles. 
Uninhibited inspiration has ridden off in all directions at once. Therefore the 
only comprehensive result of attempting to define religion is now the 
vaguest of meaningless statements. 

Christian Conversion 

A second example of the confusion engendered by vague notions has 
already been seen in the discussion of conversion. But take another 
example: Strickland [5] remarks that psychology should not attempt to say 
what must be, but in keeping with scientific ideals should simply try to find 
out what is. Applying this principle to conversion experiences, Strickland will 
not prescribe any necessary or essential elements without which conversion 
cannot occur, but rather he will collect data from accounts of conversions 
and make whatever generalizations these data permit. As was explained 
before, this is equivalent to hunting the snark before one knows what a 
snark is. Therefore Strickland continues by pointing out that the cases he 
has collected do not always exhibit sorrow for sin. This, he says, is evident 
from accounts both of Christian experiences and of modern Hindu 
experiences. In this line of argument Strickland assumes that the Hindu 
experiences are cases of conversion. But what is the definition of 
conversion? Acknowledgment of the Westminster Confession as one's 
presupposition provides a definition and a solution of the problem. On this 
basis conversion is a sinner's initial turning to the mercy of God in Christ 
upon an apprehension of sin as contrary to the righteous law of God. 
Although this is not a verbatim quotation from the Confession, it is a fairly 
close approximation of the Puritan or Calvinistic meaning; and if this is 
what is meant by conversion, it is clear that Hindu experiences cannot be 
called experiences of conversion. It is only slightly less clear that many 
experiences called Christian by careless thinkers are not conversions and 
may not even be Christian at all. The confused state of mind of secular 
psychologists who mix together all sorts of experiences, which at best have 
only the most superficial similarity, renders their investigations almost 
completely useless. One might as well announce as a great discovery that 

coxcombs, the light from the planet Mars, and Communists are all red. If 
psychologists are not supposed to legislate, nevertheless Christianity 


A third and final example of misapprehension resulting from poorly 
defined terms, also arising in connection with the phenomena of conversion, 
is the sense of sin. To return for the last time to Pratt, we note that he 
hardly disguises his antipathy toward Bunyan's experience. The objection he 
expresses is that Bunyan suffered under a sense of sin without 
particularizing one or a few definite sins. Pratt gives the impression that 
Bunyan would be more understandable if he had shown sorrow for some 
obvious act of wrongdoing. Had he committed murder or theft, had he 
maligned or injured his next-door neighbor, then he would have had 
something to be sorry for, and his depression might have been somewhat 
justified. But, says Pratt in disparagement, Bunyan suffered merely from a 
sense of sin rather than from any definite acts. The reason why Pratt 
passes from simple psychological description to open condemnation is not 
hard to see. He has tacitly defined sin as an overt and voluntary act, 
possibly restricting it to fairly serious acts, and he shows no understanding 
of the view of sin as any falling short of God's standards. In his non- 
Christian view peccadilloes possibly - and certainly inherited, involuntary 
character - are not regarded as sin. Thus Pratt with his presuppositions can 
neither appreciate nor even understand the Christian doctrine of human 
depravity. He is trying to apply a secular notion of sin to the Christian 
experience of Bunyan, and the result is no more relevant than it is 

Time and time again this is what happens. In the following chapters, with 
respect to several important problems, it will be seen at great length how 
the ambiguous and misplaced terms of the comparative method either 
produce insoluble difficulties and paradoxes, lead to obvious absurdities, or 
come illogically to conclusions inimical to Christianity. The non-Christian 
arguments regularly assume the point in dispute before they start. The 
questions are so framed as to exclude the Christian answer from the 
beginning. Examining this procedure to see how it works, we shall also see 
how unambiguous Christian concepts combine into a consistent system. 

[1] William Ernest Hocking, The Coming World Civilization, 149. Italics are 


[2] L. W. Grensted, The Psychology of Religion, 15. 

[3] L. W. Grensted, The Psychology of Religion, 3, 5. 

[4] See Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, II 1, 449: "It is therefore unthinking 
to set Islam and Christianity side by side, as if in monotheism at least 
they have something in common. In reality, nothing separates them so 
radically as the different ways in which they appear to say the same thing 
- that there is only one God." 

[5] Strickland, Psychology of Religious Experience, 113-115. 

Faith and Reason 

T hroughout the history of theology and philosophy - both in all the “war 
between science and religion,” and as well in more devotional writing on the 
relation between God and man - the antithesis of faith to reason has been a 
frequent focus of discussion. But are faith and reason antithetical? In the sense in 
which these terms were used by Augustine, they are virtually identical. In some 
contexts, certainly, they are arranged in friendly cooperation. But of course they 
have frequently been set in opposition. 

The present discussion will be condensed under four easily remembered 
subheadings. First, the Roman Catholic view will come under the heading of 
"Reason and Faith." Second, "Reason without Faith" will summarize modern 
philosophy from Descartes to Hegel. Third, the outbursts of irrationalism 
that followed Hegel - including mysticism, Neo-orthodoxy, as well as 
Nietzsche and Instrumentalism - will be taken as examples of "Faith 
without Reason." And fourth, the only remaining combination is "Faith and 

Reason and Faith 
Natural Theology 

That true religion is preceded by or in some way founded on the activity 
of natural reason is an idea that has been and continues to be widely 
prevalent. The proper procedure is pictured as beginning with a proof of the 
existence of God. When the unbeliever is convinced by an argument drawn 
from nature, then he may next be shown the antecedent probability of a 
special revelation, and finally the reasonableness of the Scriptures. 

Not only has this natural theology in its medieval form been adopted as 
the official position of Romanism, but many Protestant theologians also 
accept it in some form or other. Not all, to be sure: A.H. Strong, 
Systematic Theology (I, 71), says, "These arguments are probable, not 
demonstrative." However, the Lutheran professor, Leander S. Keyser, 
expounds the rational arguments for the existence of God in A System of 
Natural Theism. His analysis and rejection of the ontological argument only 
underscore his dependence on the others. A.E. Taylor is more ambiguous in 
his ecclesiastical position, in his concept of God, and even in the precise 
force he assigns to his argument; but he wrote a book, Does God Exist? to 
which question his answer is certainly not negative. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr Y 
Stuart Hackett, and in his own way Edward John Carnell ally themselves 

with several Protestant writers who accept the theistic proofs. Prior to all 
these men, however, and in a much more elaborate and systematic form 
than any of them, Thomas Aquinas stated the natural arguments for God's 
existence, on the basis of which he then erected a revealed theology. 

The Thomistic view distinguishes between the process of arriving at 
truth by man's unaided natural reason and the voluntary acceptance of truth 
on the authority of divine revelation. The former is demonstrable 
philosophy; the latter, accepted without demonstration, is the sphere of 
faith. Faith and reason are, therefore, in one sense, incompatible. This 
sense is of course not that in which humanists or materialists make them 
mutually antagonistic. Rather, they are psychologically or subjectively 
incompatible. If we have rationally demonstrated a proposition, it is 
impossible for us to believe it on bare authority. We now have the proof, 
and this leaves no room for faith. For example, a high-school teacher may 
tell a pupil that plane triangles contain 180 degrees, and the pupil, if he has 
some idea of what a degree is, may believe what his teacher says. But 
after the pupil has understood the proof, he no longer believes the theorem 
on the authority of the teacher; he knows the theorem because he has 
proved it. Thomas and Aristotle would even allow an example from sensory 
experience. An American might tell a European that Denver is west of St. 
Louis; but if the European should come to America and visit the cities, he 
would no longer believe on authority, he would know by experience. It is 
thus impossible to know and to believe the same thing at the same time. 
The principle holds equally for the proposition that God exists. 

However, the subjective incompatibility of knowing and believing the 
same thing at the same time does not prevent the same proposition from 
being a part of one man's theology and another man's philosophy. God has 
accommodated himself to human frailty, and because the Christian religion 
is not to be restricted to scholars, God has supernaturally revealed some 
truths which scholars can discover of themselves. Thus God has revealed 
his existence so that peasants and morons may believe on him; and they 
have faith. But Thomas no longer believes in God's existence; he knows 
that God exists because he has proved it. 

In another and more important sense, reason and faith are not 
incompatible. They are complementary. There are many truths about God 
that are indemonstrable. Yet, though they cannot be obtained naturally, they 
are necessary for positive religion. Therefore, God has graciously revealed 

them. For example, it can be demonstrated that God exists and that he is 
the cause of the world, but the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be 
demonstrated. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Trinity is not incompatible 
with reason; it does not contradict any proposition demonstrable in 
philosophy. On the contrary, the doctrines of revelation complete what 
philosophy had to leave unfinished. The two sets of truths are 

True faith and true reason cannot contradict one another. Natural 
knowledge and the truths of faith both come from God - though in different 
ways. But as they both come from God, they must be consistent. Because 
of this it follows that faith is often an aid to reason. Whenever a thinker in 
his speculative reasonings arrives at a proposition inconsistent with faith, 
as Averroes did when he concluded against individual immortality, he should 
accept the warning of revelation that he has made an error in his 
argumentation. Faith is never a hindrance to reason; one should not picture 
the believer as a prisoner who ought to be given his freedom; faith 
restricts only from error. Thus reason and faith are in harmony. 

In this Thomistic representation of affairs, the meaning of faith and 
reason should be noted. These key terms are not used in the same sense 
by all authors, and therefore the historical discussions have not always 
concerned the same subject. Faith for Thomas Aquinas refers to truths 
received by the supernatural impartation of information, but this is not 
what F. FI. Jacobi and Friedrich Schleiermacher later meant by faith. Reason 
in the present context means a process which begins with sensation, 
passes through imagination, makes use of abstraction, and arrives at 
conceptual knowledge. But in seventeenth-century philosophy reason was 
sharply set apart from sensation. Reason then meant logic alone. Because 
of such variation in usage, caution is necessary. One author's strictures on 
faith may indeed apply to one meaning of faith, while at the same time 
they may be entirely irrelevant to another. Failure to observe this - not only 
by the readers, but more especially by the authors - has been a source of 
endless confusion. 

Before examining the cosmological argument itself to determine whether 
or not reason can fulfill Aquinas' expectations, it will be best to consider 
some objections to the general program as outlined. Edwin A. Burtt in his 
Types of Religious Philosophy seems to approve of the following criticism: 
If man's reason is naturally incompetent to arrive at the doctrine of the 

Trinity or at other truths of faith, it must be incompetent to prove God's 
existence in the first place. Why should one truth be demonstrable and not 
others? And further, even if God's existence and goodness are proved, it 
does not follow that a supernatural revelation is needed. God could show his 
goodness in other ways. 

The Romanist, he says, faces this dilemma: 

If man's reason is competent to tell that God's goodness implies the 
provision of a supernatural revelation, it needs no such revelation, being 
able to decide equally well what man's own attainment of good 
requires; if it is incompetent to point the way to human salvation, it is 
still more incompetent to conclude anything about infinite 
providence.r 11 

Now, there may be flaws, and serious flaws, in the Thomistic philosophy; 
but Professor Burtt's criticism seems to miss the mark. It may seem 
strange that a discussion which will arrive at a thoroughgoing rejection of 
Thomism should pause to defend it against contemporary attacks. Yet not 
only should one try to be fair, but even self-interest cautions against relying 
on defective criticisms. And indeed it seems that Professor Burtt has 
placed a burden on Thomism that it need not bear. 

In the first place, it is not necessary to hold that God's goodness implies 
a supernatural revelation. It is enough that God's goodness permits the 
possibility of a revelation. Of course, God might show his goodness in other 
ways, as Burtt contends, but this does not rationally exclude a special 

Then in the second place, even if God's goodness implied a special 
revelation, it by no means follows that unaided reason could discover the 
contents of that revelation. Granting unreservedly that from God's goodness 
we could validly infer that there must be a revelation - granting, that is, 
that we recognize the need of further information as to the method of 
obtaining our ultimate felicity - there is still no reason to conclude that this 
information is discoverable by our unaided efforts. Quite the contrary, 
would it not be largely our own inability to discover God's requirements for 
us that led us in the first place to conclude for the necessity of revelation? 

Burtt's criticism relies wholly on the principle that if it is possible to 
demonstrate any one proposition, it is possible to demonstrate all others. 
This is implausible. There is nothing irrational or self-contradictory, 

certainly nothing obviously self-contradictory, in maintaining the 
demonstrability of some truths and the indemonstrability of others. Even 
Hegel, who by the exigencies of his system should have made everything 
demonstrable, admitted the existence of contingencies in nature. In Hegel's 
construction this admission may indeed be a flaw. Absolute Idealism 
presupposes that all knowledge is so interrelated that every part entails the 
whole. All nature is supposed to be grasped through a dialectical 
manifestation of concepts that is completely under our control. But 
Thomism is not Hegelianism. If with Thomas the premises of 
demonstration are to be sought in sensory experience, each man is limited 
by the relatively narrow range of his own experience, and all mankind would 
be limited by a universe of experience that does not include premises for 
all truths. Without these premises we cannot possibly arrive at the desired 
conclusions. Intricate epistemological considerations enter here that cannot 
be discussed just now, but at least from a more ordinary point of view the 
inability to demonstrate the events of history does not seem to invalidate 
the proof of the theorems in geometry. 

Burtt then makes the supposition that the Romanist, in answer to the 
criticism that any rational competency makes revelation unnecessary, 
would point to the Bible as being in fact a revelation. But, Burtt holds, this 
is an inadequate reply to the criticism. "Acceptance of any supposed 
revelation as an actual fact depends upon the prior conviction that there is 
in the universe a God able and willing to supply it" (406, revised edition). 
This assertion also is wide of the mark, but in one respect it better 
describes the position than the earlier dilemma. The dilemma depended on 
the point that an argument for God's existence would imply a revelation. 
That is to say, Burtt first contended that a demonstration of God's 
existence, if further continued, would also demonstrate the existence and 
the contents of a revelation. This later remark merely insists that a 
conviction of God's existence must precede the acceptance of a revelation. 
Here it is not a question of God's existence implying a revelation, but it is 
the more modest position that a revelation presupposes a God able and 
willing to reveal himself. Obviously Thomas claims that he has 
demonstrated the existence of such a God. Therefore, the next step is to 
search through the world to discover whether or not an actual revelation 
has occurred. And again, obviously, Thomas finds the Bible. Now, Burtt 
asserts that this discovery is an inadequate reply to the criticism; but if 

we accept the first part of Thomas' philosophy, it is not easy to see why 
this step should be called inadequate. 

However, there is still one further source of confusion. As a matter of 
fact, acceptance of a revelation may not depend on any prior conviction of 
the existence of God. To be sure, a revelation presupposes God; but the 
acceptance of a revelation does not require a previous belief in God. A man 
might accept the Bible and in that very act be for the first time convinced 
of God's existence. That is, he might find God in the revelation. Indeed, 
since not many people are competent to understand the proofs of God's 
existence, and since many who are competent do not study the proofs, it 
would seem that most people who accept revelation have not first 
convinced themselves intellectually of the existence of God. They take both 
the existence of God and the contents of the Bible equally on faith. 

Logically, of course, the fact of a revelation presupposes that there is a 
God. To this extent Burtt is obviously correct. But this is not a damaging 
criticism, since Thomas would admit as much. It is entirely in accord with 
the distinction made by Thomas, but rather ignored by Burtt, between the 
order of reality and the order of knowing. In reality God comes first and 
everything else comes later; but the human process of learning, according 
to Thomas, starts with other things first and arrives later at God as a 
conclusion. For these reasons, complicated though they may be, Burtt's 
criticism of Thomas must be judged unsound. 

Reflection on Burtt's criticism may suggest that the matters he 
discusses are after all of secondary importance. The crux of the matter 
lies in the demonstration itself. If the demonstration is valid, objections 
automatically fail. But is the demonstration valid? Has Thomas actually 
proved the existence of God? This is the important question. 

The Cosmological Argument 

On this argument hangs the fate of all natural, as opposed to revealed, 
theology; and its force will decide whether the labors of centuries have 
been worthwhile or whether they have been misdirected. Now, if the 
cosmological argument (leaving the ontological argument out of 
consideration) is invalid, either Christianity has no rational foundation, or a 
meaning for reason must be found that is independent of Thomistic 
philosophy. To point out the direction which this discussion will take, it may 
be said that Thomas' argument will prove to be invalid, and his use of 
reason indefensible; then an alternative meaning of reason will be proposed 

which, in addition to any Thomistic reference, will also reveal the ambiguity 
in modern humanistic charges that Christianity is irrational. 

The cosmological argument for the existence of God, most fully 
developed by Thomas Aquinas, is a fallacy. It is not possible to begin with 
sensory experience and proceed by the formal laws of logic to God's 
existence as a conclusion. The terms fallacy, formal laws of logic, 
invalidity, demonstration, and so on refer to those rules of thought which 
admit of no exception. They refer to necessary inference. Some of the 
Protestant theologians describe valid reasoning as mathematical. For 
example, David S. Clark wishes to "distinguish between proof and 
mathematical demonstration." [2] By the term proof he means evidences, 
such as are used in law courts. The reason that the term mathematical is 
used with demonstration is that algebra and especially geometry consist of 
necessary inferences. The demonstrations of geometry are clearly valid. 
They are outstanding examples of correct thinking. If the premises be 
admitted, the conclusions cannot be avoided. In a law court, a piece of 
evidence - and often all the evidences together - do not necessitate the 
decision. The use of the term mathematical, however, is unfortunate; for 
the proof of geometrical theorems is no more valid than the non- 
mathematical syllogism used for centuries in logic textbooks: All men are 
mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal. This, too, is a 
necessary inference. Now Thomas Aquinas intended, and natural theology 
demands, that the argument for God's existence should be a formally valid 
demonstration. The conclusion must follow necessarily from the premises. 
In this, I maintain, the argument fails. 

The first reason it fails is too complicated to spell out here. As 
summarized in the Summa Theologiae I, Q. 2, the cosmological argument 
depends on an extensive philosophical background borrowed from Aristotle. 
It includes a theory of motion which asserts that nothing can move itself. 
This thesis rests on the concepts of potentiality and actuality. Thomas 
defines motion as the reduction of potentiality to actuality. The cause of a 
motion must be actually what the thing moved is potentially. And since 
nothing can be both actual and potential in the same respect, it follows that 
nothing can move itself. Unfortunately, the concepts of potentiality and 
actuality remain undefined. Aristotle tried to explain them by an analogy. In 
the context, motion is used in the explanation and then the concepts of 
potentiality and actuality are used to define motion. The argument therefore 

is circular. Behind this stands a mass of metaphysics and epistemology. 
Such intricacies cannot be discussed here, but it should be noted that if any 
essential syllogism in all the extensive argumentation is invalid, the whole 
system and the proof of God's existence collapses. 

A second reason for repudiating the cosmological argument can be better 
pinpointed. In his attempt to conclude with a first Unmoved Mover, Thomas 
argues that the series of things moved by other things in motion cannot 
regress to infinity. The reason Thomas gives for denying that moving 
causes can regress to infinity is that this view would rule out a First 
Mover. But this reason that Thomas gives is essentially the conclusion he 
wishes to prove. Of course, an infinite series of moving causes is 
inconsistent with a first Unmoved Mover. But if the argument is designed 
to demonstrate the Unmoved Mover, its existence cannot be used ahead of 
time as one of the premises in the argument. 

A third reason of a slightly different sort concerns the identity of the 
Unmoved Mover. Suppose that all the syllogisms to this point were valid. 
Suppose the existence of the Unmoved Mover had been demonstrated. Yet, 
when Thomas adds, "this [First Mover] everyone understands to be God," 
we may demur. The argument taken at its full face value would prove the 
existence merely of some cause of physical motion; one might even say 
that it could prove the existence only of some physical cause of motion. To 
avoid this, Aristotle goes to some trouble to prove that the Unmoved Mover 
has no magnitude; but this is one of the most unsatisfactory parts of his 
argument. At any rate, it is quite clear that the Unmoved Mover of the 
proof has no qualities of transcendent personality. There is nothing 
supernatural about this cause. In fact - if the argument is valid, and if this 
Unmoved Mover explains the processes of nature - the God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob is superfluous, and indeed impossible. 

This is a point on which a great contemporary theologian commands 
attention. Karl Barth, the founder of Neo-orthodoxy, in his Church 
Dogmatics II, 1, 79ff., gives some of his reasons for rejecting the Roman 
Catholic viewpoint. In contrast to the decision of the Vatican Council, April 
24, 1870, that God, who is the beginning and end of all things, can certainly 
be known from the phenomena of created nature by the natural light of 
human reason, Barth declares that God can be known only through God. The 
main reason for this, says Barth, is that we are talking about the Christian 
God, the Triune God. Admittedly the Vatican Council did not intend to speak 

of another God, nor about only a part of this one God. But its method, 
nevertheless, leads to a partitioning of God, and therefore to another god. 
The decree uses the appellation "Our Lord," but the argument concerns only 
"the beginning and end of all things." Now, says Barth, Christianity holds 
that God is the beginning and end of all things, but it also holds that God is 
the Redeemer; and if we take the unity of God seriously, we shall not be 
able to separate the one from the other so as to make one knowledge of 
God, as beginning and end of things, dependent on nature and another 
knowledge of God as Lord and Redeemer dependent on revelation. No, says 
Barth; the knowledge of God cannot be so partitioned. A knowledge of God 
as the beginning and end cannot exist without a knowledge of God as 
Redeemer; nor can we know God as Redeemer without knowing him as the 
beginning and end of all things. 

Is not the Deus Dominus et creator of this doctrine the construct of 
human thinking - a thinking which in the last resort is not bound by the 
basis and essence of the Church, by Jesus Christ, by the prophets and 
apostles, but which relies upon itself? And although the knowability of 
this construct can rightly be affirmed without revelation, do we not 
have to ask what authority we have from the basis and essence of the 
Church to call it "God'? 

Perhaps it is impossible to follow Barth in every line of his objection here 
quoted. Very likely Pascal put the matter more accurately in his paragraphs 
contrasting the god of the philosophers with the God of Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob. But in any case, the gap between the "Unmoved Mover" and the 
living God is underscored. 

Now, fourth and last, Thomas' argument is invalid because one of its 
chief terms is used in two senses. Is it not obvious that a valid argument 
requires its terms to bear the same meaning in the conclusion that they 
started with in the premises? Unfortunately, Thomas very clearly argues in 
other places that no term when applied to God can have precisely the same 
meaning it has when applied to men or things. When we say that God is 
wise, and that Solomon is wise, the term wise is not univocal. Not only the 
term wise; the term exist also. In the proposition God exists, the term 
exists has a meaning different from its use in the proposition man exists. 
Thomas is very emphatic on this point. But if a term is not used univocally 
throughout the syllogism, if a term does not bear precisely the same 

meaning, the syllogism is invalid. The rules of logic have been violated.[3] 
Those who today accept the cosmological argument will immediately 
deny that its fortunes are indissolubly connected with its formulation by 
Thomas. There are other ways of stating the argument, they claim, so as 
to avoid any error that Thomas may have stumbled into. If this were true, 
one would expect to find this unimpeachable formulation somewhere in the 
published writings of its defenders. But the fact of the matter is that no 
such formulation can be found. There are references to the cosmological 
argument, there are discussions of it, and there are summaries of it; but 
the full argument itself, with none of the steps omitted, seems never to 
have been put into print. 

David Hume and Charles Hodge 
Therefore, those who defend a cosmological argument without stating 
what it is must be challenged to answer several objections that would 
seem to apply to any formulation. No doubt it is David Hume who, quite 
apart from his strictures on the principle of causality, has best expressed 
those objections. But since Hume was such a vicious antagonist of 
Christianity, his name is anathema to believers, and they are irrationally 
inclined to assume the falsity of all he said. The reverse may be closer to 
the truth. It may be that his conclusions are validly drawn from his 
premises; he may be perfectly correct in arguing that the existence of God 
cannot be demonstrated on the basis of sensory experience. And if this is 
so, Christians should thank him for pointing out a procedure that ends only 
in embarrassment for them. Hence, Hume's arguments should be examined 
without any prejudice that he could not possibly have been right. 

Hume's rejection of natural theology depends chiefly on two points. The 
first point is this: If it is valid to conclude the existence of a cause from 
observation of its effects, it is nevertheless a violation of reason to ascribe 
to that cause any properties beyond those necessary to account for the 
effect. For example, if we see the score and hear the music of Beethoven, 
and if all our knowledge of Beethoven depends on this observation, we may 
perhaps conclude that there existed a man with a great degree of musical 
ability; but it would be irrational to conclude that this musician was also 
the star quarterback of Bonn University. Similarly the cosmological 
argument - if otherwise sound - might give us a god sufficiently powerful 
to be the cause of what we have observed, but no more. In spite of the 

remark of some orthodox theologians that that is already a good deal, one 
must reply that it is not the omnipotent Creator described in the Bible. 

What is worse, the argument is not otherwise sound. William Paley's 
famous analogy assumes that the universe is a machine like a watch, and 
hence needs a divine watchmaker; but Hume questions the analogy. Is the 
universe a machine? In many natural processes the universe resembles an 
organism more than a machine. And if the universe is an organism in 
spontaneous movement, the analogy of a divine watchmaker falls away. 
The objection may be stated in still more general terms. Whether the 
universe is a machine or a living organism, the cosmological argument 
assumes that it is an effect. As an effect, it needs a cause. But how can it 
be shown that the world is an effect? Of course there are causes and 
effects within the universe. One part causes another part to move, just as 
one wheel in a watch causes another wheel to move. Even vegetables have 
causes and effects within them. The cosmological argument, however, 
requires that the universe as a whole be an effect. But no observation of 
parts of the universe can give this necessary assumption. To be quite clear 
about it, no one has ever seen the universe as a whole. 

Then next, even if it could be proved that the universe is an effect, there 
is another and extremely serious difficulty, though it is but a particular 
application of Hume's first point. The first point was the principle that no 
characteristics can be ascribed to the cause beyond those necessary to 
produce the effects by which alone the cause is known. Now, the observed 
effects include many evils, disasters, tragedies, and what the Christian 
calls sin. These can be listed in terrifying profusion. They have been so 
listed and used against Christianity both by Hume and John Stuart Mill, as 
well as by more cynical writers like Voltaire. These manifest evils, from 
congenitally deformed infants to the torture chambers of Nazis and 
Communists, prevent a conclusion that the cause of the world is good. The 
cosmological argument totally fails to prove the existence of a just and 
merciful God. To be sure, it allows - though it does not prove - the 
existence of a good god, but only on the assumption that he is neither 
omnipotent nor the cause of all that happens. But the cosmological 
argument was supposed to deal with the universal cause. As a recourse for 
Christian theism, therefore, the cosmological argument is worse than 
useless. In fact, Christians can be pleased at its failure, for if it were valid, 
it would prove a conclusion inconsistent with Christianity. 

It is most unfortunate that a large section of conservative Protestantism 
is unwilling to discuss the justice of God and its relation to the evils of the 
world. There are devout individuals who seem to suppose that a discussion 
of evil may put wrong ideas into young heads. Any attempt to explain evil, 
they hold, is unsettling to the faith. In this they are disobedient to their 
own standard, the Bible; and beyond this, their viewpoint implies that 
Voltaire, Hume, Mill, and other opponents of Christianity are, and will 
remain, unknown. These well-meaning individuals do not realize that Hume's 
arguments have been public property since 1776; that millions of people 
have rejected Christianity because of them; and to stop this loss it is a 
Christian duty to meet them squarely. This, I believe, can be done. The 
problem of evil is not insoluble. But the solution does not depend on 
rehabilitating the cosmological argument. 

Charles Hodge tried to do so. Hodge is one of the princes of historic 
Christianity. As a theologian and exegete he has had few peers since he left 
for glory. One might even venture to say that without reading his 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, it is impossible to understand 
Romans. Though such praise may be a bit of exaggeration, nevertheless his 
high standing as a theologian must be admitted. But his philosophy is 
deplorable, particularly his treatment of the cosmological argument. 

In his Systematic Theology he attempts to prove that the universe is an 
effect. He argues that since all its parts are dependent and movable, the 
whole must be dependent, because "a whole cannot be essentially different 
from its constituent parts .'T41 This is not true. For example, Rembrandt's 
Night Watch is made up of various pigments and canvas, but the whole is 
essentially different from its parts. The whole is essentially an aesthetic 
object; the parts are not. If, instead of identifying the parts as pigments in 
their tubes, we speak of the whole as made up of two-inch squares of 
painted canvas, the same remark holds true. None of the two-inch squares 
is an aesthetic object, but the whole is one of the greatest paintings in the 
world. Or, for another example, we may select common table salt. It is 
good to eat - on eggs at least; it is a preservative of pork and olives; it is 
also, essentially, a chemical compound. But its constituent parts are 
sodium and chlorine. These are essentially elements. They are also 
essentially poisonous to the human system. The salt on pretzels tastes 
good, but who would put a piece of sodium on his tongue? It simply is not 
true that parts singly have the same characteristics as the wholes of which 

they are components. 

Hodge continues by saying that "an infinite number of effects cannot be 
self-existent. If a chain of three links cannot support itself, much less can 
a chain of a million links. Nothing multiplied by infinity is nothing still" Let 
us took closely at what Hodge has said. The first of his three sentences, 
viz., an infinite number of effects cannot be self-existent, is the conclusion 
Hodge should prove. It offers no reason on its own behalf. The second, 
which presumably is intended as a part of the proof, is an analogy. Hodge 
supposes that the events of history and nature are like links in a chain, and 
if a chain of three links cannot support itself, much less a chain of a 
million links. Analogies, however, are never valid arguments, and this 
analogy is particularly bad. In the first place, the picture of a chain whose 
first link is held by a hook is a far from adequate picture of the 
connections among the parts of nature. Second, whether it is three links, a 
million links, or just one link, the fact that it cannot float by itself in the air 
provides no rational basis for concluding that the universe is not self- 
existent. Eternal self-existence is quite a different concept from that of a 
link hanging on a hook. Finally, Hodge's third sentence, which seems to bear 
the form of the main argument, does not clearly attach to the preceding. 
He had just said that what is true of three links must be true of a million; 
now he adds that nothing multiplied by infinity is nothing still. Aside from 
its doubtful connection with the preceding, for he had not mentioned zero or 
multiplication, the sentence is bad arithmetic. It is not true that zero 
multiplied by infinity is zero, as one can easily see by realizing that the 
fraction two over zero and the fraction three over zero are both infinity. Let 
this much suffice as a horrible example of defending natural theology. 

Let this suffice also to refute the claim that God's existence can be 
demonstrated on the basis of observation of nature. The cosmological 
argument is invalid, and a different type of philosophy is called for. One 
possibility would be to hold to Christianity at the cost of being irrational. 
Another possibility, and the one next to be discussed, is the attempt to 
follow reason even if it should lead to a repudiation of Christianity and 
revelation. Thus "Reason and Faith" gives way to the new rubric, "Reason 
without Faith." 

Reason without Faith 

The medieval, that is, the Roman Catholic worldview lost its monopoly 

over men's minds in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Two powerful 
movements combined, or at least competed, to form modern civilization. 
One of these, Protestantism, renounced Scholastic reason and based itself 
on revelation; the other, the Renaissance, gave itself over wholly to reason 
and would have nothing to do with faith. This latter alternative will be 
discussed first, and its development may be conveniently arranged by 
prefacing the account of the main philosophical theories with a few notes 
on its form in popular culture. 

Early Irreligion 

The effect of "reason" on the broad aspects of culture - since it includes 
the many-sided developments of the Renaissance and extends its influence 
over several centuries, let us say to the French Revolution - is entirely too 
large a subject for adequate treatment. Certain evidences of hostility to 
Christianity are all that is pertinent and manageable here. 

The fortunes of Christian faith had been at low ebb for centuries. A few 
pious souls, like the Waldensians, Jan Hus, and John Wycliffe, barely kept 
the Gospel alive, while the great mass of people were sunk in superstition. 
Yet there probably would have been no surging revolt against the dead 
forms of Christianity had it not been for the invention of the printing press 
in the middle of the fifteenth century. It was the printing press that 
brought to the people both the New Testament and the Greek and Roman 

In Italy, where the classical literature first arrived as the Eastern Empire 
crumbled under the pressure of the Turks, the time was ripe for an 
intellectual revolution; for it was in Italy that the corruption of the papacy 
was most evident. When therefore the glories of Greece and Rome became 
known, when, that is, a civilization that had not been dominated by the idea 
of God was brought to light, society quickly shed its hypocritical 
Christianity and became openly pagan. 

Of course, not all scholarship became pagan. The idea of God was not 
universally discarded. Not only were the classical authors studied, but New 
Testament scholarship also was advanced both by the cowardly Erasmus 
and the courageous Reformers. But the Renaissance as distinct from the 
Reformation was essentially pagan. And if this was true of the scholars, 
particularly the Italian scholars (Pico della Mirandola, c.1494; Marsilius 
Ficinus, c. 1499; and later, Telesius, c.1588; Giordano Bruno, c. 1600), it 

was all the more true of Benvenuto Cellini, Niccolo Machiavelli, and the 
Borgias. Artistic brilliance, intense conceit, political power, and dissolute 
riches were not compatible with Christian doctrine and morality. It is not 
necessary to maintain that the medieval ignorance of the classics was an 
advantage, nor that the medieval art form was superior to the new 
techniques. A knowledge of Homer and Virgil and the discovery of the laws 
of perspective must not in themselves be considered inimical to faith; but 
the content of art was changing, and the religious themes became less 
Christian while the pagan themes became more frequent. In literature 
Boccaccio, Rabelais, and the cut-throat Villon combine contempt for 
ecclesiastical duplicity with a disinclination to personal morality. 

Not all of this paganism, however, should be attributed to a philosophic 
decision on the merits of faith and reason. Villon and Rabelais are simply 
the ordinary results of human depravity. Indeed, extenuating circumstances 
can be alleged for the revulsion from what went under the name of 
Christianity. Nonetheless, all these men were representative components of 
the new culture. They were the spokesmen and mirror of their time, both 
influenced and influencing. But the type of more thoughtful writer, who, 
without being a systematic philosopher, would in the long run exercise a 
wider influence, may be found in Michel de Montaigne. 

Strange to say, there is a notable contrast between Montaigne and the 
others in the Renaissance tradition, both earlier and later. Renaissance 
humanism was optimistic. It did not worry itself with the limits of man's 
reason. In denying the need of God's grace, it assumed that human 
resources were adequate for all our needs. The philosophic development, 
yet to be discussed, and the burgeoning scientific advances anticipated no 
checkmate. But Montaigne was not so sure. 

In fact, Montaigne was not sure of anything. He was a skeptic. This is 
first to be seen in his attitude toward morality and religion. Far from being 
willing to die for any dogma or even to be inconvenienced by any scruple, 
he advises us in his essay on "Custom" to conform ourselves to our time 
and society. There are no universal moral principles binding upon all men; 
and still less can anything be known about God, salvation, and a future life. 
Wisdom therefore consists in having no personal conviction and in deferring 
to common opinion so as to avoid trouble. When in Rome, do as the 
Romans do. 

The Romans, that is the Romanists, were at that time busily massacring 

the Protestants in France. Well, the Calvinists had it coming to them. They 
were opinionated people who violated accepted customs. Neither they nor 
the Romanists had any reason to believe as they did, but as Romanism was 
on the ground first, the Reformed people were clearly wrong in creating a 
disturbance. Of course, the Romanists were wrong too in murdering the 
Protestants, for no belief is worth killing or being killed for. 

Montaigne's skepticism, however, goes deeper than these moral and 
religious matters. Although the Renaissance was optimistic, although the 
seventeenth century in France was to exalt reason, and although Montaigne 
himself exercised some influence over the seventeenth-century writers, still 
he expresses grave doubts as to the powers of reason: 

If you say, "The weather is fine," and you are speaking the truth, 
then the weather is fine. Is that not a way of expressing a certainty? 
And yet it will deceive us. To see that this is so, follow up the 
example. If you say, "I lie," and you are speaking the truth, then you 
are still lying. The art, the reason, the force of the conclusion in this 
case are the same as in the other. Nevertheless you find yourself 
bemired. I observe the Pyrrhonian philosophers who cannot express 
their general notion by any manner of speech, for they would have to 
have a new language. Our language is entirely made up of affirmative 
propositions, which are wholly hostile to them; so that, when they say, 
"I doubt," we have them immediately at our mercy, if we force them 
to admit that at least they assert and know this, that they doubt. 

Although the last lines of this paragraph point the way to a dogmatism 
immediately utilized by Rene Descartes, the main thrust is skeptical and as 
such contrasts sharply with the views of the following three centuries. With 
the sole exception of David Hume, the philosophic and scientific 
development that formed modern European culture showed no anxiety 
relative to the competency of the human mind. It is the thought of these 
major philosophers to which most attention must be given. But first one 
later continuation of the Renaissance, a continuation on the level of the 
popular viewpoint, should receive brief mention. This is the so-called Age of 
Reason, including both the French Enlightenment and English Deism. 

The French Enlightenment will be condensed into a reference to Voltaire 
and the Encyclopedists. It was not any great philosophical movement, but 
thoroughly popular. Voltaire was as shallow as he was prolific. Anyone who 

spent his time writing so many volumes and pamphlets cannot have spent 
much time thinking, though anyone with more than average wit who has 
been in and out of prison, honored, exiled, insulted, and flattered could no 
doubt write a great deal. Yet Voltaire presents no consistent system of 
thought. At one time he favors free will, at another determinism; there are 
and there are not innate ideas; the world had a beginning and the world is 
eternal. Or, again, the teleological argument for God's existence is valid, but 
noses were made for spectacles and so we have spectacles. However, 
consistency and profundity are not the prerequisites of popularity. 

The French people, with Protestantism virtually extinguished, were 
groaning under the autocratic power of the aristocracy and clergy. Voltaire 
was their spokesman. From the beginning of his literary activity he made 
war on the Christian religion as he knew it. With the passing of time his 
attacks became more direct and more bold. Writing in God and Men and 
The Bible Finally Explained, he does not attack the foibles and hypocrisies 
of priests and believers, but rather the Gospel itself. His conclusion is that 
whenever the Scriptures are neither apocryphal, fraudulent, nor altered, they 
are immoral and absurd. 

Unlike Diderot, however, and the majority of the Encyclopedists, Voltaire 
was not an atheist. He believed that morality requires a finite god who 
rewards and punishes. Yet the idea of reward and punishment conflicts with 
the basic tenet of Deism that God does not intervene in human affairs; and 
if these rewards and punishments are supposed to be distributed in a future 
life, one must remember that Voltaire ridiculed the idea of soul by saying: 
Either admit that a flea and a grub have a soul, or say that man is a 

English Deism, from which Voltaire picked up many of his ideas, was a 
relatively distinguishable phenomenon that can be located in the eighteenth 
century. Naturally, its roots were in the past, the Renaissance, and even on 
back to Celsus and Porphyry. In England Lord Herbert of Cherbury 
(1583-1648) first collected the set of ideas later to be known as Deism; but 
perhaps it is Charles Blount (1654-1693) who may be best identified as a 
full-fledged Deist. After him come the main representatives of the 
movement: John Toland (1670-1722), the Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), 
Anthony Collins (1676-1729), Thomas Woolston (1669-1731), Matthew Tindal 
(1656-1733), and, not to mention lesser figures, Viscount Bolingbroke 

In the main, Deistic writing attacks Christianity. The authenticity and 
authority of the Bible are denied, and its accounts of miracles are 
discredited. Anti-clericalism is not limited to the Romish variety, but the 
Protestant clergy also are described as venal and greedy; in fact Deism 
goes further, for Shaftesbury and most Deists were anti-Semitic also. 
Frequently there is a tendency to depend on ridicule, and even the friends of 
Deism acknowledge that Thomas Woolston's writing were coarse and ribald. 

The generally negative strategy, the use of ridicule, and even the 
centering of attention on particular details are conducive neither to positive 
construction, philosophic profundity, nor to systematic and consistent 
comprehensiveness. The best representative of Deism, from the point of 
view of calm temperament and breadth of statement, is Matthew Tindal. 

His work, Christianity as Old as Creation, synthesizes the main Deistic 
themes. First of all, there is a natural religion discoverable by reason. No 
special revelation is needed and nothing mysterious or supernatural is to be 
accepted. Reason supports a belief in a god who rules the world rationally. 
Being perfect and immutable, god does not violate the laws of nature by 
any miracle. For the same reason, the religion he gave to man at creation 
is perfect and needs no supplementation. The perfect rationality of god is 
likewise incompatible with his choosing and favoring a particular people. 
Special revelation would also be an instance of partiality. On the contrary, 
all men have a sufficient means of knowing what god requires, for we could 
not conceive of a just God requiring of all men the information he had given 
to only a few. In any case the Bible is not a special revelation because it is 
full of superstition and error. The Old Testament is immoral and Christ 
himself is to be censured for making salvation to depend on beliefs of 
which most men have never heard. All that god requires is that we should 
promote the common good. Tindal also believed in a future life, though 
some Deists did not. 

In addition to its being the most comprehensive and worthy expression of 
Deism, Tindal's book achieved another distinction, for it stimulated Bishop 
Butler to produce that famous Analogy which so successfully put an end to 

Now, perhaps it is exaggeration to say that Butler's Analogy destroyed 
Deism. The Deists themselves were beginning to feel the difficulty of 
defending their negations in the face of orthodox replies and their 
affirmations in the face of more radical arguments. Deism, in spite of its 

profession of an ethical religion, was also accused - and with some show 
of justice - of fostering widespread public immorality. On this point the 
Methodist revivals changed popular opinion. Perhaps, too, political and 
military events tended to crowd Deism off the front page. 

Interesting as all this is, English Deism and the French Enlightenment are 
essentially popular results of the Renaissance. These men, though they 
wrote voluminously, were more followers than leaders in the formation of 
European culture. Their arguments are sometimes inconsistent and their 
terms ambiguous. In particular the term reason shifts its meaning, if not 
always in a single author, yet certainly from one to another. Behind these 
men stand the major philosophers. Therefore it is necessary to examine the 
source of that faith in reason which holds that reason has no need of faith. 

The direction in which the culture of an age develops is, humanly 
speaking, chosen by a few exceptionally intelligent men. The popular 
authors then pick up some of the main ideas, usually distorting and diluting 
them considerably, and finally fifty years or a century later the general 
viewpoint has seeped down to the whole populace. 

The clearest ideas therefore on reason versus faith must be studied first 
in the major philosophers: the Rationalists - Descartes, Spinoza, and 
Leibniz; the Empiricists - Locke, Berkeley, and Hume; and finally Kant and 


Rene Descartes might be introduced as a wise father who tut-tuts the 
foolishness of his little boy, Montaigne. One can imagine him saying, Don't 
be so pessimistic; I know that philosophy is too hard for you; let me do it. 
Or, to put the matter in Descartes' own more dignified language: While 
sensation and experience repeatedly deceive us and furnish us no 
indubitable foundation for a firm superstructure, yet if only a single point be 
found solid, then like Archimedes we can move the universe. Descartes 
went to extreme lengths to give doubt the benefit of doubt. Because of 
optical illusions, which are more frequent than one might first suppose, we 
cannot begin by trusting sensation. 

For that matter, we cannot be sure that we are awake. On a number of 
occasions I have intended to take a nap but seem to have failed; then when 
I remarked that I did not get to sleep, my wife would smile and tell me I 
had been snoring loudly. Dreams prove the same point, for dreams are 

often as vivid as supposedly waking experience; and while we are dreaming 
we do not suppose it is a dream. 

Finally, to push doubt to the limit, what if there be an omnipotent demon 
whose chief delight it is to deceive us? He makes us believe that two and 
two are four, when the answer is really five; and how he chuckles over our 
confusion. To be sure, this sounds like an absurd supposition. How could 
anyone take it seriously? But, on the other hand, how could one decide what 
is absurd and what is not absurd, unless some assured knowledge provides 
the basis for the decision? In the absence of all knowledge, when one 
knows nothing at all, nothing at all can appear absurd. Therefore, for all we 
know, i.e., nothing, there might exist an omnipotent deceiver. 

Yet there is one thing that not even an omnipotent demon can do. He 
cannot deceive us without allowing us to think. If we are deceived, we 
must be thinking; and if we think, we exist. Here then is an indubitable 
truth, a firm fulcrum by which we can move the universe of philosophy. 

It is necessary to note just how Descartes has defeated the omnipotent 
demon. Had he said, I walk, therefore I exist, he would have failed. I can 
easily deny that I am walking without actually walking. It would be enough 
to sit in a chair and say, I am not walking. But it is absolutely impossible 
to deny I am thinking without thinking. Since doubting is a form of thought, 
I cannot doubt that I think without thinking the doubt. I think, therefore, is 
an indubitable truth. 

How Descartes proceeded to build up his worldview from this point does 
not concern us here. What is important is his method. One must not 
suppose that the certainty of thought depends on any experienced vividness 
of thinking. If certainty depended on vividness, then lightning and thunder 
would serve to outwit the demon. Obviously they do not. The proof of the 
cogito depends on logic alone. "I think" is a proposition such that if it is 
denied, it is proved true. If I say, I think, it follows that I think; but just as 
well if I say I do not think, it follows that I think. This is not a matter of 
experience but of logic alone. 

Because of this method Descartes and his followers are called 
Rationalists. They depended on reason. But note, the reason on which they 
depended is not in the first instance a reason that is antithetical to 
revelation. This is not to say that a Rationalist, or Rationalism as a 
system, is the bulwark of revelation. Spinoza in particular had no love for 
the Bible. But the reason of Rationalism is in the first place a reason that 

is antithetical to and exclusive of sensory experience. Here reason means 

All knowledge, on this rationalistic theory, is to be deduced as the 
theorems of geometry are deduced from their axioms. No appeal to 
sensation is permitted. The consistent application of the laws of logic is 
alone sufficient. Reason therefore bears the meaning of logical consistency. 
This explains why the Rationalists adopted the ontological argument for 
God's existence. They needed God's existence not only to rid themselves of 
an omnipotent devil, but, more seriously, to prove the existence of a world. 
Now, to fit their principles, the argument for God's existence had to be so 
construed as to make a denial of his existence self-contradictory. As a 
person who denies that the interior angles of a triangle equal two right 
angles simply does not know what the concept of a triangle means, so 
anyone who denies God's existence simply does not understand the term 
God. Thus God's existence is proved by logic alone. 

When this meaning of reason is coupled with the principle that all 
knowledge can be deduced by reason alone, it follows that revelation is at 
best unnecessary. 

Spinoza, who applies the principle of Rationalism more consistently than 
Descartes, draws out the inference explicitly: 

The truth of an historical narrative, however assured, cannot give us 
the knowledge of God nor consequently the love of God, for love of God 
springs from knowledge of him, and knowledge of him should be 
derived from general ideas, in themselves certain and known, so that 
the truth of an historical narrative is very far from being a necessary 
requisite for our attaining our highest good.[5] 

The Christian reply to a rationalistic rejection of revelation should not 
concern itself too much with archaeological evidence that the Bible is 
historically accurate. Spinoza, to be sure, was an early member of the long 
line of higher critics who delighted to find blunders in the Old Testament. 
And no harm has come to Christianity through the archaeological 
investigations that have discomfited the critics by showing that writing had 
been invented in Moses' day, that the nation of Hittites actually existed, and 
that all the other stupidities of Wellhausen's school are but the wishful 
thinking of the Bible's enemies. 

But Spinoza's argument was that an historical narrative, even if perfectly 

accurate, is valueless in religion. A Christian reply therefore must be 
directed against the epistemology that underlies Spinoza's statement. The 
important question is not whether or not the Bible is true, but whether or 
not all knowledge is deducible by reason, i.e., by logic alone. 

Now, the history of philosophy, that is, the secular scholars themselves - 
for it is not necessary to consult Christian writers - have convincingly 
answered in the negative. 

Kant did his best to explode the ontological argument; and since this 
argument is Rationalism's only hope of making contact with real existence, 
without which philosophy would be merely a game of words, such a 
refutation, if sound, would annihilate Rationalism altogether. But even if the 
ontological argument should be valid, no one has ever succeeded in deducing 
the precise number of planets, or the actual species of japonica, from the 
existence of God by logic alone. And if astronomy and botany must 
progress apart from Rationalism, it is inconsistent to demand that religion 
should be so confined. 

Rationalism, therefore, in the seventeenth-century meaning of the term, 
is a failure. So construed, reason without faith not only provides no religion, 
it supports no knowledge of any kind. If this were the only possibility, the 
Christian could offer the world a choice between faith in revelation or 
abysmal ignorance. 


The next attempt in European philosophy to build on "reason" without 
faith was British Empiricism. This is the philosophy which the later Deists, 
if not the earlier, came to adopt. But it must be noticed that the term 
reason has taken on a very different meaning. Without much distortion it 
may be said that reason now means sensation. That is, whereas 
Rationalism attempted to base all knowledge on logic alone, Empiricism 
depends on experience alone. The famous line from John Locke reads, 
"whence has it [the mind] all the materials of reason and knowledge? To 
this I answer in one word, from experience; in that all our knowledge is 
founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself." 

Locke's view of revelation may be a little too complicated, or possibly 
too disguised, to describe accurately. Although he seems to have admitted 
the fact of revelation, some interpreters judge it to be a grudging 
admission. In one place he raises the question whether or not we can be 
sure that anything is a revelation, and seems to suggest that probably we 


But however it may be with Locke himself - and, more pointedly - 
however it may have been with the devout Bishop Berkeley, Hume showed 
that Empiricism, consistently maintained, cannot provide room for 
revelation. There is no need to balance the Christian Berkeley against the 
secular Locke and to stress Locke's deficiencies to the advantage of 
Berkeley's more acceptable attitude toward revelation. The important thing 
is to discover what results from the principle that all knowledge is based 
on experience, chiefly sensation. 

According to Empiricism, knowledge begins with what Locke calls ideas, 
notions, or phantasms; what Hume calls impressions; or what most people 
today call sensations. By combining, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing 
these sensory materials, we develop all, even our most abstruse, 
knowledge. The most complicated of Einstein's relativity equations, though 
this is not the example Hume used, can be resolved into memory images 
that were copied from previous sensations. 

Now, how far will experience take us? Do these inner sensations give any 
knowledge of external bodies? Can we discover the causes of these 
impressions? Berkeley had already showed that the sensations of red, hard, 
bitter, etc., give no evidence in favor of the existence of an external 
material world. Hume, following him, gives the example of a table. Suppose 
we see a table. We have a sensation of a table. If we walk away from it 
down a long hallway, what we see appears smaller than what we saw when 
we were closer. An external table is supposed always to maintain the same 
size. Therefore what we actually saw was not the alleged external table, 
for what we actually saw changed in size. What we actually saw was an 
image or phantasm in our own mind, and hence our sensations furnish us 
with no evidence for the existence of an external world. Even if we should 
suppose that our image had some external cause, we could not know that 
the image resembles the cause, for we have seen nothing but images. In 
fact, if the word image connotes a similarity to something external, we 
have no reason to believe that our sensations are images.[6] 

Hume, however, goes further than Berkeley in reducing knowledge to 
experience. Locke had accounted for the idea of matter by abstraction, and 
Berkeley had shown that experience provides no instance of an abstract 
idea. Ideas of blue, red, and green we have in abundance; but the abstract 
idea of a color that is neither blue, red, nor green - an idea of color that is 

no color at all - simply does not exist. Similarly, "matter" does not exist; it 
is merely the sound of our voice, nothing more than an empty word. But if 
the abstract idea of material substance is nothing, it follows with the same 
necessity that experience can give us no idea of spiritual substance. The 
one is as abstract as the other. That is to say, a mind or soul does not 
exist. Experience gives us ideas only. There are reds, greens, bitters, 
sweets, roughs, smooths and their compounds - rivers, trees, and tables; 
but there is neither matter nor spirit, for perception can never furnish 
evidence for anything imperceptible. We ourselves are nothing but a 
collection of sensory perceptions. 

Next, if it is obvious that perception can furnish no evidence of any 
imperceptible entity, it is only a little less obvious that perception can 
furnish no evidence for what is unperceived. 

If I offer a perceived letter as evidence that my unperceived friend is in 
France, I am assuming that there is a necessary connection between the 
letter and my absent friend. Were there no necessary connection, had my 
friend not written the letter, were he not the cause and it the effect, then I 
could not know that he was in France. All questions of history, therefore, in 
fact, all alleged knowledge of facts beyond present sensation and the 
records of our own memory, depend on the principle of causality. 

An examination of experience, however, shows that a knowledge of cause 
and effect is not to be had. We may have the sensation of red and a 
moment later a bitter taste; or the sensation of a loud noise may be 
followed by a sweet smell. Experience provides the succession of ideas; but 
we never see, smell, taste, or hear a necessary connection. There is no 
reason to believe that red causes a bitter taste or that a noise causes a 
smell. Quite the contrary, no one can imagine how or why a color might 
cause a taste. This remains true for compound ideas as well as for simple 
ideas. The combination of white, a cubical shape, and a crystalline structure 
that we call sugar may precede a sweet taste. But can anyone show a 
necessary connection between the first set of ideas, singly or together, and 
the sweet taste or the feeling of a full stomach after eating quite a bit of 

Experience accustoms us to expect certain sequences. They become so 
familiar we take them for granted. We call them causes and effects. But in 
it all we have no understanding of the sequence and no experience of any 
necessary connection. A knowledge of history is therefore impossible. 

Now, finally, if it is impossible to know the imperceptible by perception, 
and if it is impossible to know the unperceived by perception, is it even 
possible to know what we now see? Granted that there is no evidence in 
experience of an unexperienced table whose size does not change, can we 
have even the image of a table, composed as it is of sensations of color, 
shape, and hardness? 

Here is the difficulty. At any finite time, no matter how short, we 
experience a multitude of sensations. We see dozens of colors, we may 
hear two or three sounds, we could smell several odors, and even if we 
have no tastes at the moment, we always have a number of tactual 
sensations. From this manifold of sensations we select a few and combine 
them to make the image of a table. But why is it that we combine the 
color brown, a somewhat rectangular shape, and the sensation of hardness 
to make a table, instead of selecting from our many sensations the color 
pale green, the sound of C-sharp, and the smell of freshly baked bread to 
combine them into the idea of a jobbleycluck? 

Locke had tried to justify the connecting of certain ideas on the ground 
that they were qualities inhering in the same material substance. But as 
material substance does not exist (even if it did we could not know it until 
after we had combined simple ideas into things and then done some 
abstracting), this explanation is not available to Empiricism. Berkeley and 
Hume give the impression that our selections for combinations depend on 
the fact that the ideas selected occur at the same place and time. Time, 
however, is unimportant, for at any time we are experiencing many ideas 
that we do not combine into a table. Then, must an empiricist say that the 
particular combination depends on the space in which the simple ideas are 

Whether this answer is satisfactory or not depends on the empirical 
account of how we can recognize space. 

Do we see space? Do we hear space? Do we smell space? Not only is 
this impossible, but even when we see a single object in space, we cannot 
see the distance between it and us. We judge distances by comparing 
known objects. Since we have previously seen and touched a particular 
table, and thus know its size at close range, we can judge how far away we 
are when it appears half its previous size. Or, we can judge that a house 
down the road is a mile away because on other occasions we have walked 
the distance. Space and distance therefore are matters of judgment and 

comparison, not of simple sensation. 

But if space is learned by comparing houses and tables, we must first be 
able to perceive the table before we can compare it with a house and learn 
of space. That is to say, space is an idea of comparison. But if the idea of 
space cannot be had until after we have compared tables and houses, we 
cannot produce tables and houses by selecting simple ideas through the use 
of space. 

Empiricism therefore has blundered fatally. It has surreptitiously inserted 
at the beginning of the learning process an idea of space which does not 
exist until after the process has been well-nigh completed. Once again, 
then, the attempt to found knowledge on "reason" as distinct from 
revelation has failed. If this were the end of the story, the Christian could 
offer the world a choice between faith in revelation or an abysmal 

Immanuel Kant 

Immanuel Kant, awakened, as he says, from his dogmatic slumbers by 
David Hume, promptly set about to remedy Empiricism's defect. If all 
knowledge is based on experience alone, then there can be no knowledge of 
any necessary truth. At most, experience could reveal that such and such is 
so, but not that it must be so. For example, sensation might tell us that 
doors have two sides, but it cannot teach us that doors must have two 
sides. Doors might, somewhere, someday, have only one side. No 
experience can disprove this possibility. Similarly, Empiricism cannot 
substantiate universal propositions. We might possibly know that all the 
doors we have seen have two sides, but, without any reference to future 
inventions, even for the past we cannot know that all doors have had two 
sides. Or, again, every time we have added two and two, the answer has 
been four; but so far as experience goes, we cannot say that two and two 
are always four. Experience cannot tell us how much two and two are in 
those instances we have not experienced. Briefly, without necessity and 
universality - and these are inseparable - there can be neither mathematics 
nor physics. 

By one stroke, Kant is able to rehabilitate necessity and universality and 
to account for the perception of individual objects like chairs and tables. 
The mind of man at birth is not just a sheet of blank paper as Locke said it 
was. It possesses characteristics, forms, or notions in its own right. Space 

and time are two such forms. The knowledge of space and time does not 
depend on experience; rather, the reverse is true: Experience depends on 
our knowledge of space and time. These two forms make the perception of 
things possible. 

In colloquial discourse we speak of railroad tracks converging in the 
distance. They do not really converge. The railroad tracks themselves do 
not converge, but we see them converging. This perspective is our form of 
seeing. The tracks in themselves exist independently of our seeing them, 
but when they enter our vision they take the form of our perspective. Thus 
we make them converge by looking at them. 

This illustration of tracks in perspective must be extended to cover all 
objects in space. The tracks stand for any object, such as a chair or a 
table; and the perspective of the illustration stands for the spatial 
characteristics of every visible object. Chairs and tables themselves, or 
generally things in themselves, do not exist in space; it is we who see 
them that way. Therefore, just as we know ahead of time, before 
experience - or to use Kant's term, a priori - that all seen railroad tracks 
must converge, always have, and always will converge, so on a more 
profound level we know a priori that doors must have, always have had, and 
always will have two sides. That is to say, the doors of experience, doors 
as seen, must have two sides. But what doors in themselves are like - 
doors not appearing in our perception, doors not conformed to our mind's a 
priori form of space - we have not the least idea. 

Knowledge, however, is not restricted to the bare perception of objects. 
In addition to sensation there is thought. Thought combines sensations into 
judgments. We may say, This door is thick, or, Some cats are black, or, 
Every change must have a cause. In such judgments many perceptions are 
summarized and joined together. Now, obviously, the things of experience 
do not do the joining themselves. Framing judgments is something that is 
done by thinking beings. Therefore the mind, far from being a passive 
recipient of knowledge, is an active manufacturer of knowledge; as such it 
has definite methods of procedure. It joins or unifies experiences in a 
definite number of ways. These methods of unification are not learned from 
experience; on the contrary, they make experience possible. If we did not 
possess this equipment, we could no more begin to think than we could 
begin to see objects without the a priori form of space. Since, therefore, 
thinking or judging consists in arranging perceptions under concepts (this 

visible kitty belongs to the species cat, or to the class of black objects), it 
follows that meaningful experience is possible only on the basis of certain a 
priori concepts or categories. 

The identification of the categories is accomplished by noting that the 
forms used in organizing experience are the forms of logic. Since all 
knowledge consists of judgments, the forms of knowledge are the forms of 
judgments, and the forms of judgment are the forms of logic. The 
categories, therefore, are the basic concepts without which we could not 
think at all. The categories are the ways in which the mind synthesizes the 
diversities of experience. The categories produce judgments. Since, on 
Kant's theory, there are twelve logical elements in the aggregate of 
judgments, there are twelve categories. The concepts of unity and plurality 
are categories. Without the concept of unity we could not think at all. A 
more complicated form of judgment is implication. We say, since this is 
true, that must be true; or we could say, that must be true because this is 
true. Note the because. Implication therefore depends on the category of 
causality. Causality therefore is a category, an a priori concept, a form of 
knowledge which, instead of being learned from experience, must be known 
prior to experience so as to make experience possible. Thus by making the 
knowledge of causality prior to experience, Kant believes he has escaped 
the skepticism of Hume. If he has really done so, then he has established 
knowledge without an appeal to revelation, and reason without faith would 
be successful. 

However, it was no Christian trying to defend revelation that questioned 
Kant's success. Christians are sometimes accused of being biased and of 
forcing their arguments to foregone conclusions. Yet this is no more true of 
Christians than it was of Kant or of anyone else. Kant knew that he wanted 
to work out a theory of categories, and he made repeated attempts to 
deduce them before he hit upon his final formulation. The conclusion was 
decided upon before the argument was worked out. This is true of every 
philosopher, although Christians are more often castigated for it than are 
other writers. And those who do the castigating are more pointed examples 
than those they deride. But anyway, as a matter of history, the failure of 
Kant was not exposed by a Christian trying to defend revelation. 

Certain basic defects in Kant's system are universally recognized. Kant 
had explained his categories as the mind's methods of unifying experience. 
Unity, plurality, causality, and the others were forms by which experience 

could be put together. But if there were no sensory experience to put into 
these forms, the categories would remain empty and would not of 
themselves be knowledge. Furthermore, the categories have no further use 
whatever. They can be applied to experience but cannot be applied beyond 
experience. A concept without its sensory content is empty. Similarly 
empty is the a priori notion of space. Unless sensations appear in space, 
we can have no contact with reality. Knowledge requires the combination of 
a priori forms and a posteriori experience. Either one without the other is 
not knowledge. 

This construction makes Kant's problem an impossible one. He sought 
the preconditions of experience while denying that these conditions are 
objects of experience. If our knowledge is always a combination of form 
and content, we cannot know the form without the content. Yet Kant 
professed to have deduced the categories. 

This criticism can be expressed in other and perhaps clearer terms. Kant 
had in effect argued that before we attempt to study physics and theology, 
we must determine whether or not the mind is capable of investigating 
physical things and God. But if this is so, can it not be maintained with 
equal plausibility that before we attempt to study the limitations of the 
mind, we must determine whether or not the mind is capable of 
investigating its limitations? Therefore, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason 
should have been preceded by a Critique of the Critique of Pure Reason, and 
so on backward for quite a while. 

Another standard objection to Kant, though perhaps it is simply the same 
objection again in a different form, has to do with things-in-themselves. On 
Kant's theory, things-in-themselves must stand behind things-as-they- 
appear-to-us. It is assumed, to make use of the previous illustration, that 
behind the converging railroad tracks, there are real tracks that do not 
converge. These non-converging real tracks are presumably the cause of 
the tracks that appear and converge. The convergence occurs only in 
experience; the non-convergence does not occur in experience. But, very 
unfortunately for Kant, categories cannot be used outside experience. 
Causality is a relationship existing only between two objects of experience. 
The category of causality cannot be applied to non-converging tracks. Or to 
repeat the clever remark of F.H. Jacobi, "Without the thing-in-itself one 
cannot get into Kant's system, and with it one cannot stay in." 

These objections to Kant do not depend on the fact that he failed to 

establish a theology. God cannot be the cause of the world because God is 
not an object of sensation, and causes must be confined within sensory 
experience. But this failure to arrive at a theology would not destroy Kant's 
philosophy. The objections depend on the fact that Kant has failed to find a 
basis for physics. He has failed to explain sensation. He has failed to give 
an intelligible account of the relation of form to content. He has failed to 
make knowledge possible. Therefore the question still remains whether 
knowledge can be achieved apart from revelation. 

Hegel and His Critics 

There is one more, one magnificent, let us say, one final attempt in 
secular philosophy to establish the claims of Reason spelled with a capital 
R. Though the seventeenth century exhibited a Rationalism in a very 
definite sense of that term, no one is more of a Rationalist, no one exalts 
the powers of reason, more than G.W.F. Hegel. 

To show, therefore, that the attempt - begun by the Renaissance - to 
establish the possibility of knowledge apart from divine revelation is a 
failure, it will be necessary, in the last place, to indicate the flaw in Hegel's 
system. This is not easy. An exposition of Hegelianism would become 
intolerably technical, and yet without it the locus of Hegel's inadequacy 
could not be intelligibly indicated. To be sure, it is all but universally 
admitted that Hegelianism cannot be successfully defended; and perhaps it 
would be the part of wisdom, as it will be to a large measure the part of 
necessity, to rely on this consensus and proceed. Nevertheless, something 
of the line of argument ought to be given. 

Kant, as has been shown, compounded knowledge of form and content. 
The form is the contribution of the mind, while the content comes from an 
independent, external thing-in-itself. Yet, since the categories do not apply 
beyond sensation, the thing-in-itself remains unknowable; but if unknowable, 
its existence and necessity could not be asserted. Hegel makes quite a 
point of the absurdity of asserting an unknowable; then he tries to remove 
the opposition between consciousness and its object by showing that on a 
higher level they are both within consciousness itself. Nature, the given, the 
contributions of sense, are one with mind or spirit. There is no ultimate 
disparity. This unity, however, must be shown in detail. Hegel refuses to 
rely on any mystic experience or ecstatic trance to gain the One; on the 
contrary, he proposes a new logic by whose dialectical procedure the 

required unity can be developed step-by-step. 

Aristotelian logic, [7] in its insistence on clear-cut distinctions, is good so 
far as it goes. A cat is not a dog, and a sense object is not the self: They 
should not be confused. Unless thought marks one thing off against another, 
there can be no thought. But thought not only distinguishes one thing from 
another, it also relates and conjoins them. Both dog and cat are species of 
mammals, and the recognition of one species makes use of the contrast 
with the other. Without such relations it would be impossible to think; just 
as impossible as it would be to think without distinctions. Every object 
must be differentiated from every other object, but no object can be so 
totally differentiated as to exclude the identity that transcends the 
difference. The differences are expressions of unity. 

Every definite thought excludes other thoughts, excludes especially its 
opposite thought; yet every thought has a necessary relation to its opposite 
or negative. It cannot be detached from its negative without losing its own 
meaning. Its negative is a part of its meaning, and is therefore included 
within it. To see that each opposite includes the other is to see that both 
are included in a higher unity. This is true not only of cat and dog, but also 
of consciousness and thing.[8] 

For all of Kant's efforts, his theory of the self is not too great an 
improvement over Hume's. Self-consciousness, he said, was not a concept 
but a consciousness that accompanies all concepts. The ego remains 
unknown in itself and is known only through the thoughts that are its 
predicates. But this is as much as to say, concludes Hegel, that we cannot 
see the Sun because we cannot throw the rays of a candle upon it. Kant 
has declared intelligence itself to be unintelligible! He did so because he 
presupposed that only abstract identity, without difference, is entirely 

The old logic assumed that each object is an isolated identity, a pure this 
and not that. Relations were regarded as external, as outside of the real 
nature of things. On the contrary, it is essential that a dog be not-a-cat. 
The meaning of every object is implicated in the meaning of every other. 
Nothing is isolated or purely one. In particular, the isolationist procedure 
stumbles at self-consciousness because in it true unity is essentially 
complex. Mind and object, subject and substance, and the particular selves 
form a unity. Nothing is outside or independent. Nature and man are 
identical. Yet this identity is not abstract or empty. All the differences are 

preserved. Unity and plurality are so blended that neither has meaning 
without the other. 

In Descartes, and surely in Locke, thinking was regarded as the activity 
of an individual person. But if thinking is essentially and exclusively an 
individual capacity, it seems impossible to avoid solipsism. There is no 
escape from one's own mind. And in any case, whether there are many 
minds or my own only, the objects of experience miraculously become real 
time-and-time-again in separate, casual acts of perception. Kant thought he 
had avoided solipsism, but he failed to give a satisfactory account of how 
one object could appear to many persons. Undoubtedly he intended the 
categories to be the same in all minds and to apply to a common world of 
objects. But no purely individual experience could reveal a world common to 
other centers of experience. Therefore, concludes Hegel, there must be a 
universal mind in which all persons and objects participate. 

To apply these principles in detail, to show precisely the unified 
differences of the Absolute Mind, Hegel works out a system of categories. 
Instead of Kant's twelve, Hegel has a hundred or more. These categories 
are the concepts that apply to and constitute everything. The first, the 
simplest, the most abstract, the emptiest is pure Being. Every object is a 
being. Being contains everything - implicitly. The implicit must now be 
made explicit by a dialectical process. Since everything is determined by its 
opposite, Being cannot be thought apart from Non-being. When we have said 
of an object that it is a being, the very universality and emptiness of Being 
has left us saying nothing. We have not said it is green or heavy; we have 
not determined it in any way. Being therefore is the equivalent of Nothing. 
But since by this dialectical process of thought, Being has become Nothing, 
the category of Becoming has emerged. Becoming is the synthesis of Being 
and Nothing. For a thing both is and is not when it is becoming. 

By such a dialectical procedure Hegel deduced a long list of categories. 
The final category contained explicitly all that the first contained implicitly. 

Undoubtedly Hegel was a genius, and in spite of his frequently cumberous 
jargon there is a great deal of worthwhile profundity in his Phenomenology 
and Logic. In particular he often puts his finger on the sorest spots of 
previous systems, so that it may well be said that to understand Kant, 
Descartes, or the ancient Stoics, one must first read Hegel. The accidents 
of Prussian politics, to which someone might want to credit his immediate 
popularity in Germany, cannot explain his long ascendancy in Great Britain 

nor his vogue in the United States. Nevertheless, since World War I, 
Hegelianism has become all but extinct; and in Germany it began to suffer 
eclipse even in the middle of the nineteenth century. This reversal should 
be taken as evidence of some philosophic flaw or flaws in Hegel's 
construction, and where the trouble lies must be discovered. 

One particular point of criticism was early singled out by Hegel's 
immediate followers. If the universe is this system of categories, they 
argued - if the real is the rational and the rational is the real - then clearly 
all reality can be dialectically deduced, and every item must find its clear 
place in the system. Hegel had made a point of preserving differences; he 
did not favor empty abstractions nor the night of mysticism in which all 
cows are black. To make good his claims, therefore, Hegel ought to deduce 
some one individual cow, that very real black and white Holstein in the 
pasture over yonder. 

But this is precisely what Hegel did not and could not do. As Plato never 
satisfactorily connected his Ideas with individual sense objects, so too, and 
even all the more so, Hegel could not rationally deduce an individual object 
from the Absolute. To be sure, Hegel was not unaware of this criticism. 
When faced with it, he replied that he had dissolved the individual - the 
this, the here and now, and the individual ego as well - in the very first 
chapter of his Phenomenology; but whatever reality they have, he had 
preserved in the dialectical process. This is of course in keeping with the 
denial of an unknowable Ding-an-sich and the removal of that sharp 
separation between the mental form and the sensory given which plagued 
the post-Kantians. 

Now, it seems impossible to defend the Ding-an-sich, but it also seems 
that Hegel's claim to preserve the differences in his dialectical ascent 
cannot be substantiated. With respect to zoology, Hegel admits with 
commendable candor that the deduction not only fails to reach the 
individuals but even fails to reach some subspecies. The concept animal 
might perhaps be deduced, and even the species cow; but not Holstein- 
Friesian, let alone Pieterje van Rijn III. 

Hegel's candor removes the sting of the criticism, but it cannot be 
maintained that his natural willingness to give himself the benefit of the 
doubt has diminished its force. One wonders whether the species cow or 
even the concept animal can be deduced. And so far as physics is 
concerned, it is clear that no deduction of determinate being, quality, or 

quantity can give us knowledge of the quality of sulphuric acid or the 
atomic weight of gold. Can it not therefore be concluded that Hegel failed 
to find the concrete universal he sought and has offered us only empty 

Absolute Ignorance 

There is a second criticism, and on these two the present refutation of 
Hegelianism must depend. It was seen above that for Hegel the truth is the 
whole, every determination is a negation, and an object's relationships are 
logically internal to its meaning. A cat is not-a-dog; it is a part of the 
essence of a cat to be not-a-dog. But to be not-a-dog is to be related to 
dog, and this relation is internal to the meaning of cat. Thus cat and dog, 
sense object and self, are included in a larger whole. The All-Inclusive is 
the Absolute. 

That relations are internal, and especially that the truth is the whole, are 
themes hard to deny. Yet their implications are devastating. So long as you 
or I do not know the relationships which constitute the meaning of cat or 
self, we do not know the object in question. If we say that we know some 
of the relationships - e.g., a cat is not-a-dog - and admit that we do not 
know other relationships - e.g., a cat is not-an-(animal we have never heard 
of before) - it follows that we cannot know how this unknown relationship 
may alter our view of the relationship we now say we know. The alteration 
could be considerable. Therefore we cannot know even one relationship 
without knowing all. Obviously we do not know all. Therefore we know 

This criticism is exceedingly disconcerting to an Hegelian, for its principle 
applies not merely to cats, dogs, and selves, but to the Absolute itself. The 
truth is the whole and the whole is the Absolute. But obviously we do not 
know the whole; we do not know the Absolute. In fact, not knowing the 
Absolute, we cannot know even that there is an Absolute. But how can 
Absolute Idealism be based on absolute ignorance? And ours is absolute 
ignorance, for we cannot know one thing without knowing all. 

The Rationalism of the seventeenth century, British Empiricism, the 
critical philosophy of Kant, and now Hegelianism have all tried and have all 
failed to justify knowledge. Reason apart from revelation has come to grief. 
The only remaining possibility of escaping revelation now is to abandon 
reason. It is a bitter pill for man to swallow, but some men would rather 

wallow in abysmal ignorance than accept information by the grace of God. 

Faith without Reason 

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have appeared from 
time to time individuals and groups who look with disfavor on reason, 
intellect, and higher learning. From the Patristic period Tertullian is often 
quoted as saying, "I believe because it is absurd." Although this is not 
precisely what Tertullian said, his opposition to pagan culture is well known. 
What has the Christian in common with the philosopher, he declaims; the 
church with the Academy; revelation with reason? Yet, because he did 
some philosophizing himself, perhaps he should be understood as 
deprecating, not reason in general, but pagan reason only. Nonetheless, 
there remains a suspicion that his is a faith without reason. 

Types of Mysticism 

There are other cases also where, although the phrase cannot be applied 
with complete literalistic rigor, there is a suspicion and more than a 
suspicion that faith without reason is the ideal. The mystics form a 
particularly noteworthy group. 

Dionysius the Areopagite was a Christian Neoplatonist of the fifth 
century. A few words of his will show, not that he utterly despised reason, 
but that at least he placed a realm above reason. It is a realm in which the 
categories of thought and of language are so strained that intelligible 
meaning seems to have escaped. For example, 

Triad supernal, both super-God and super-good, Guardian of the 
theosophy of Christian men, direct us aright to the super-unknown and 
super-brilliant and highest summit of the mystic oracles, where the 
simple and absolute and changeless mysteries of theology lie hidden 
within the super-luminous gloom of the silence, revealing hidden things, 
which in its deepest darkness shines above the most super- brilliant, 
and in the altogether impalpable and invisible fills to overflowing the 
eyeless mind with glories of surpassing beauty .[9] 

Neoplatonic mysticism, from which this Dionysius took his inspiration, 
told of trances in which one's personality merged into the perfect simplicity 
of an original One. In this One, the simplicity is so perfect that there is not 
even the dualism of subject and predicate. Therefore, in this realm 

knowledge is impossible, for all knowledge consists in the attribution of 
predicates to subjects: The cat is black, the number four is even, or 
William was a conqueror. But in the trance or absorption, there is not even 
an I and thou. There is only the pure simplicity of the One. For this reason, 
not only is there no knowledge during the trance, but even upon recovery a 
man can say nothing true about it because he would have to use the duality 
of sentences to speak or to know. 

Although this characterization is taken from Plotinus and pagan 
mysticism, it applies to the Christian mystics as well. Bernard of Clairvaux, 
the devout opponent of proud Abelard's dialectical skill, speaks of becoming 
penetrated with God as air is penetrated with light. Meister Eckhart and 
Nicholas of Cusa use many expressions that parallel those of Plotinus. It is 
a matter of common agreement that the mystic consciousness is not 
clearly differentiated into subject and object. The experience is not sharply 
focused, if focused at all. Subject and object, I and thou, are fused or 
confused in an undifferentiated one. With enthusiasm, but in unintelligible 
phraseology, the mystic speaks of being flooded with an inrush from the 
abysses of inner life; or he says that transcendental energies invade the 
soul, and the whole being, in an integral and undivided experience, finds 

There are gradations of mystical opinion. The Neoplatonic type, whether 
in Plotinus or in Nicholas, did not forgo the rigorous use of reason in 
ordinary philosophical and ecclesiastical problems. But they agree that the 
soul's union with Absolute Reality is not intellectual. God can be known only 
negatively. No finite qualities, that is, no definite qualities, can be ascribed 
to him. He is not good, not just, not wise, not anything. We unite with him; 
we merge ourselves in him in wordless communion, in a consciousness that 
transcends ideas. 

Other mystics, or, if the term mystic is not applicable here, others who 
speak of a faith without reason, diverge from the Neoplatonic standard in 
two ways. They have no liking for philosophy nor do they rest upon 
wordless trances. This negative description, admittedly broad, includes 
groups otherwise quite dissimilar. It includes not only the anarchical 
prophets of Zwickau who did not need to study Greek or Hebrew because 
God would speak to any excited peasant - but also the later devout, sober, 
and earnest pietists. And who can be too hard on the pietists? Living a 
moral, godly life, they see the cold formalism of the educated classes and 

repudiate systematic theology in favor of a simple and warm-hearted 

In the twentieth century the fundamentalists, in varying degrees, 
advocate a faith without reason. Although they stress Bible study more 
than the pietists and the anarchical prophets did, they frequently inveigh 
against philosophy and "mere" human reason. Even in doctrine they do not 
ordinarily go beyond half-a-dozen fundamental beliefs. Anything further is 
dry-as-dust theology. 

If it is inaccurate to categorize the positions of these groups as that of 
faith without reason, it is because the disparagement of the intellect 
always involves a certain amount of inconsistency. It takes a little 
intellectual argument to justify the disparagement. And particularly in the 
case of the fundamentalists with their zealous defense of a few doctrines, 
reason cannot be wholly abandoned. Some use and acknowledge more, some 
less. Such variation and inconsistency make it difficult accurately to 
classify all these groups under one heading. Nevertheless, the mystics (at 
least in what they consider most important), the pietists and 
fundamentalists, and still more another viewpoint to be mentioned in a 
moment have the common tendency of a faith without reason. 

This other viewpoint, so popular and powerful at the present time, is 
often called by the name of Neo-orthodoxy. It is even more anti-rational or 
anti-intellectual than either pietism or fundamentalism. Its background and 
motivation are also different. Instead of being a dilution of original 
Protestantism as fundamentalism is, Neo-orthodoxy descends from post- 
Hegelian philosophy. To understand it, therefore, and to see where anti- 
intellectualism may lead one, it will be necessary briefly to trace certain 
strands of nineteenth-century thought, even though it is not all distinctly 

In the previous chapter, the Renaissance attempt to justify knowledge 
without appeal to revelation has been quickly surveyed. The Rationalism of 
Descartes and Spinoza, British Empiricism, and Kant and Hegel have been 
adjudged failures. Though their brilliance evokes our admiration, their 
results cannot be accepted. The judgment that Hegel failed is not a biased 
judgment of a Christian whose ulterior motive is to defend revelation; it is 
also the judgment of those who were more eager to destroy Christianity 
than Hegel was. 

Karl Marx 

The contemporary rejection of Hegelianism was begun by two of Hegel's 
students, Karl Marx and Soren Kierkegaard. As Marx had the greater 
immediate success and because he was less radical than Kierkegaard, Marx 
will be briefly discussed first. 

To a certain extent Marx (1818-1883) profited from the work of a lesser 
contemporary, Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872). In opposition to Hegel's 
Idealism, Feuerbach held that reality consists of individual, material things. 
As a student, he had noted the epistemological difficulties of materialistic 
behaviorism; but now he decided to ignore them. Sensation and sensation 
alone can disclose real existence to us. The deduction of existence from 
essence is a dream, and therefore Hegel's operation with concepts lost 
contact with reality. In particular, Hegel's philosophy lost contact with 
individual human beings. Men were considered as essentially intellectual and 
cognitive, whereas a man - that is, a human body - is fundamentally 
emotional and is determined not by idealistic fancies but by what he eats. 
Der Mensch ist was er isst. 

Marx continues this materialistic behaviorism. Thought is a product of 
the brain. And because the universe is physical, all is in constant flux - 
nothing is fixed. It is thus that Marx transforms Hegel's dialectic of 
concepts into the physical process of dialectical materialism. Indeed, the 
great merit of Hegel, in contrast with Spinoza for example, was to 
acknowledge flux and process; while at the same time the great self- 
contradiction of Hegel was to end this process in a fixed Absolute. 

The present discussion can have nothing to do with the economic and 
political aspects of Marx's philosophy. The one point to be emphasized is 
Marx's abandonment of intellectualism. Epistemology, mathematics, and 
ethics are cases in point. Like Feuerbach, he virtually ignores epistemology. 
At best, he disposes of solipsism on the basis that it is a mockery of the 
efforts of the working class to liberate itself. The philosophical problems 
relative to the foundations of mathematics are pushed back into the 
obscurity of an unknown evolutionary past. In ethics Marx espouses a 
relativistic theory. Rights become class demands that are to be enforced 
rather than proved by rational argument. The claim of one class must give 
way to another, and only force decides which; success is the test of truth. 

To be sure, in speaking of the physical constitution of nature, in spite of 
his insistence on universal flux, Marx seems to admit the fixed truth of 

materialism. It is not necessary for the present purpose to contend that 
Marx was free from such self-contradictions. The point of this brief 
account is that modern philosophy's reliance on human reason is called into 
question. This is one of the first two attacks on intellectualism. The second 
is far more radical and thoroughgoing. 

S0ren Kierkegaard 

Spren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), although he would not be classed with 
Karl Marx by the superficial reader, is nonetheless in certain basic respects 
a typical representative of the mid-nineteenth century. In his revolt against 
the systematic Rationalism of Hegel, in his attack on official Christianity, 
and in the anti-intellectualism that permeated the Romantic movement, this 
Melancholy Dane expressed the widely held opinion that there was 
something rotten in the state of Denmark, i.e., Europe or Christendom. He 
also largely agreed with Feuerbach and Marx as to the symptoms of 
rottenness, but with respect to the cause and the cure he diverges from 
them radically. 

Marx had diagnosed the sickness of society as an economic malady; but, 
asserts Kierkegaard, the social reform which the time demands is the 
opposite of what it needs. The malady is not economic; it is spiritual and 
religious. The spirit of the age has been substituted for the Holy Spirit; man 
has taken the place of God; and time has swallowed up eternity. If Marx, in 
his erroneous diagnosis, had criticized Hegel for being too Christian and too 
abstract, Kierkegaard attacks them both: Hegel for not being Christian 
enough and Marx (or at least socialism, for it is not clear how definitely 
Kierkegaard had Marx in mind) for being too Hegelian. Their common flaw, 
for after all Hegel was a socialist in fact if not in name, was their 
disregard for the individual. Any object, for instance a pen, is enough to 
confront abstract thinking with the problem of individual existence; but 
individual persons are more important than pens. Persons are important: In 
particular, I am extremely important to me; and my problem, i.e., the 
problem of the person in his individuality, is basically religious. Now, Hegel 
had lost the person, not merely the pen, in the universality of the world 
process; for systematic Rationalism cannot give an account of real 
individual existence. 

It is not true that the real is the rational. Reality, asserts Kierkegaard, 
cannot be grasped by reason. In spite of the argument in the 

Phenomenology, the immediate, the now, the this, and especially the mine 
cannot be aufgehoben or suppressed. Hegel tried to explain the world by the 
movement of the idea; but there is no motion in logic, nor is there logic in 
motion. Motion is illogical; becoming is open, not closed; reality is chance, 
and chance cannot be put into logic. By his identification of essence and 
existence Hegel got conceptual existence only, while real existence eluded 
him. His inability to see the difference between thought and being was a 
result of his thinking as a professional thinker rather than as a man. 
Perhaps for philosophy, existence and non-existence are of equal worth. The 
System (and the proletariat as well) is not concerned with a single person. 
But for the existing individual, e.g., for me, I and my existence are of 
greatest value. Contrary to all abstractionism - whether of Plato (for he 
was a communist too), or of Hegel, or of Marx - the what is unimportant 
and the that is essential. Therefore, the duty of man is not exemplified in 
the studious activity of Professor Hegel. Reality cannot be taught or 
communicated rationally and academically. It must be grasped personally, 
passionately, anti-intellectually. It is not conclusions that are needed, but 

This same criticism applies to Marx and Feuerbach also. They are 
scarcely less abstract than Hegel. In Humanity as well as in the Absolute 
Spirit the individual cannot be found. Mass movements of faceless men 
undoubtedly have the strength of numbers, but such leveling and 
amalgamation weaken the individual ethically. The mass man has lost 
responsibility and the power of making decisions. To face the confusion of 
the times and to stand before eternity requires, not human similarity, but 
Christian individuality. In nature the individual is merely an instance of the 
species; anyone who improves a breed of sheep changes every individual. 
But religion is not a matter of the species, and it is foolish to suppose that 
Christian parents automatically produce Christian children. Spiritual 
development is radically individual, and the cure for society is the cure of 
individuals. Because society is afraid of individualists, this cure will not be 
easy. There will be bloodshed: not the bloodshed of Communistic revolution 
and battle, but the bloodshed of individual martyrs. 

Anyone but an Hegelian or a socialist must feel a measure of sympathy 
for this rugged individualism, and they can applaud the sarcasm that 
Kierkegaard directed against an empty and insincere religious formalism. 
But when one turns from the negative to the positive, from the destructive 

to the constructive, can one seriously conclude or decide that Kierkegaard's 
statements are true? 

For Kierkegaard, God is truth; but truth exists only for a believer who 
inwardly experiences the tension between himself and God. If an actually 
existing person is an unbeliever, then for him God does not exist. God 
exists only in subjectivity. This emphasis on subjectivity and the 
corresponding disparagement of objectivity result in the destruction of 
Christianity's objective historicity. The historical is not religious and the 
religious is not historical. If Christ were an historical figure who lived a 
long time ago, he would have no religious significance now. Conversely, if 
Christ is a religious figure, the historical interval must be cancelled by an 
inner contemporaneity. Real religion does not consist in understanding 
anything. It is a matter of feeling, of anti-intellectual passionateness. The 
acceptance of any objective historical truth depends on historical methods, 
and the objective student of history is too modest to put his own feelings 
into his conclusions. Speculative thinkers are not personally interested in 
suffering; they do not study the subjective truth of appropriation. 

But Christianity has always been regarded as an historical religion, not 
merely in the sense that it has had a history of nineteen hundred years, but 
specifically in the sense that it is based on historical events that happened 
that long ago. For Hegel these events and their significance were integral 
parts of universal history regarded as the developing expression of the 
Absolute Spirit. But for Kierkegaard the relation between the process of 
history and eternal truth is a paradox. In the language of Kierkegaard and 
his twentieth-century followers, the term paradox indicates something more 
embarrassing than those queer puzzles which after some difficulty can be 
solved and understood intellectually. An elementary student of physics is 
puzzled when he is told that the water pressure at the bottom of one 
container is twice that of another even though the former container has but 
half the weight of water. This is a paradox. It is solved by learning the 
relation of height to pressure. But an existentialist paradox is insoluble. It 
is a contradiction to suppose that eternal blessedness can be based on 
historical information. Therefore the subjectivity of appropriation is not 
continuous with, but stands in opposition to, an historical dissemination of 
Christian teaching. Passionate appropriation, the moment of decision, does 
away with the interval of history and makes one inwardly contemporaneous 
with Christ. The method is not intellectual; it is an experience of suffering 

and despair. The detached objective truth of Christianity is not to be had. 
Beginning with the preaching of the Apostles, all the centuries of history 
are worthless as a proof of it. The objective truth of Christianity is 
equivalent to its subjective indifference, its indifference to the subject, i.e., 
to me. 

This type of thought provokes an obvious question. If there is no 
objective truth, if the how supersedes the what, then can truth be 
distinguished from fancy? Would not a suffering Satan be just as "true" as 
a suffering Savior? Would not an inner, infinite, decisive appropriation of the 
devil be as praiseworthy as a decision for God? The philosophy of William 
James will later raise the same question, though James does not seem to 
be aware of the question; Kierkegaard notices the dilemma, but can hardly 
be said to solve it. There is a half-hearted effort to distinguish between the 
inwardness of infinity and the inwardness of the finite; and he seems to 
say that the infinity of Christian inwardness is based on God, whereas the 
inwardness of finitude relates to some other object. Now, if there were 
objective knowledge of God and of other objects, an individual could judge 
the quality of his passion on the basis of its objective reference; but if God 
and perchance the devil also are hidden, and if one is limited to a 
subjective, passionate appropriation, there would seem to be no 
distinguishable difference between the truth of God and the truth of Satan. 
Objectively it is indifferent whether one worships God or an idol. Whether 
God exists or not is immaterial. What counts is the individual's relation to 
an unknown Something. 

In his vivid style Kierkegaard describes two men in prayer. The one is in 
a Lutheran church, and he entertains a true conception of God; but because 
he prays in a false spirit, he is in truth praying to an idol. The other is 
actually in a heathen temple praying to idols; but since he prays with an 
infinite passion, he is in truth praying to God. For the truth lies in the 
inward how, not in the external what. Or, again, Kierkegaard says, "An 
objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation process of the most 
passionate inwardness is the truth, the highest truth attainable for an 
existing individual." 

Finally, another statement also found in his Concluding Unscientific 
Postscript - a statement just as definite as the preceding - expresses 
Kierkegaard's subjectivity. After remarking that a search for objective truth 
takes no account of the relation of the individual to that truth, Kierkegaard 

continues, "If one asks subjectively about the truth, one is reflecting 
subjectively about the relation of the individual; if only the How of this 
relation is in truth, then the individual is in truth, even though he is thus 
related to untruth." 

Suppose now that there are serious flaws in Hegel's "System"; suppose 
too that the Communistic mass man violates the prerogatives of the moral 
individual; suppose in the third place that the Danish Lutheran Church was 
formal, hypocritical, and dead; suppose, therefore, that Kierkegaard has 
made some telling criticisms of his contemporaries. Does this then imply 
that the cure can be effected by a suffering or passion, a subjective feeling, 
to which objective truth and untruth are equally indifferent? If this were 
true, not only would an idol be as satisfactory as God, but Hegel or Marx 
would be as satisfactory as Kierkegaard. 

Through the nineteenth century and down to World War I, Kierkegaard 
remained unknown. The revolt against reason, however, continued. Though 
much must be omitted, the advance made by Friedrich Nietzsche is 
particularly worthy of mention. 

Friedrich Nietzsche 

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), so far as German philosophy is 
concerned, was the culmination of the nineteenth century. Its second half 
had brought great advances in science. Physicists considered that they had 
completely demonstrated the truth of mechanism. Ludwig Fechner, although 
he attempted to found an empirical psychology, rejected mechanism under 
the inspiration of grand romantic ideas and peopled his universe with souls, 
angels, and gods. Rudolph Lotze made the intellect, not an instrument for 
representing things, but for transforming them. Being is in flux, and reality 
is richer than thought. William Wundt abandoned monism and pictured the 
universe as a plurality of wills. And Darwin (though not a German), 
revolutionized, not only biology, but all phases of philosophic thought. From 
these sources Nietzsche took what appealed to him and completed the 
nineteenth century's atheistic, materialistic, anti-Hegelian worldview. 

Nietzsche's theory of evolution, his Superman, his eternal recurrence, his 
transvaluation of all values, must be omitted. Attention is restricted to his 
opinions on the powers of reason. In Nietzsche's view there is no such 
thing as mind; the proper starting place is the body as it has evolved. What 
Descartes and Kant mistook for an ego, instead of being a simple subject, 

is a multiplicity of conflicting desires or urges. Therefore, the notion that 
the world proceeds so that human reason must be true is downright 
simple-minded. Everything that reaches our consciousness is simplified, 
adjusted, and interpreted. We never find a fact in nature; we never grasp 
things as they are. The whole apparatus of knowing is a simplifying device, 
directed not at truth but at the appropriation and utilization of our world. 
Philosophers have believed that in the forms of reason a criterion of reality 
had been found; whereas the only purpose of these forms is to master 
reality by misunderstanding it intelligently. This means that the will to 
logical truth presupposes a fundamental falsification of all phenomena. 
What we now call truth therefore is that kind of error without which a 
species cannot live. The object of mental activity is not to know, in any 
scholastic sense, but to schematize and to impose as much regularity on 
chaos as practical needs require. After all, why should we be so greatly 
interested in truth? Falsity is no objection against an opinion; the important 
question is, Does this opinion sustain life? Indeed, to understand how the 
abstrusest metaphysical assertions of a philosopher have been arrived at, it 
is always well and wise to first ask oneself, What morality does he aim at? 
Behind all logic there are physiological demands for a mode of life. 

Logic depends on the law of contradiction, but instead of this law's being 
necessary, it is only a sign of inability - our inability to affirm and deny one 
and the same thing. We cannot talk without using it. But for this very 
reason it should be examined the more carefully. The law of contradiction 
claims to be ontological as well as logical. It assumes something about 
Being. But to suppose that logic is adequate to reality requires a knowledge 
of reality prior to and independent of the law. Obviously then the law of 
contradiction holds good only of assumed existences that we have created. 

These ways of thinking have been bred in us through the long 
evolutionary process, and they are now so ingrained that no amount of 
experience can change them. They are indeed a priori for the individual, but 
for the human race they are evolutionary end products. Belief in causality 
and contradiction may be and is useful, but this does not make them true. 
In fact, they must be false, for knowledge and evolution are mutually 
exclusive. The character of the world in process of becoming is not 
susceptible of intellectual formulation. Parmenides said, One can form no 
concept of the non-existent; we are now at the other extreme and say, 
That of which a concept can be formed is certainly fictional. 

William James 

After Nietzsche the American school of Pragmatism continued the attack 
on reason. William James (1842-1910), inspired by French as well as by 
these German developments, made a vigorous onslaught on Hegelian 
Absolutism and fixed truth. As before, only the barest essentials and most 
pertinent points can be crowded into this short account. 

Over the domain of theism and absolutism, writes James, "you will find 
the trail of the serpent of rationalism, of intellectualism" (Pragmatism, 19). 
Intel lectualism is a serpent because its transcendental principles are 
useless. "You can deduce no single actual particular from the Absolute.... 
And the theistic God is almost as sterile.... Theism is more insipid, but 
both are equally remote and vacuous." James also repeats the accusation 
that Hegel confuses conceptual flux with physical flux, for which reason the 
conceptual treatment of the flow of reality is inadequate. Inadequate, that 
is, to the reality itself. Knowledge must come through experience - not 
experience consisting of discrete, atomic, simple ideas, but experience as 
an ever-flowing stream of consciousness. There are no discrete data; 
nothing is separate or distinct; things are constantly merging into each 
other; there are no distinctions such as matter and form, substance and 
relation. To be sure, concepts have a practical value; we select portions of 
experience and arbitrarily set them off; this process serves our purposes 
well, but such concepts are far from satisfying the demands of rationalistic 
speculation; they are purely practical. Our fundamental ways of thinking, 
the categories and the law of contradiction, are discoveries of exceedingly 
remote ancestors. Lobsters and bees no doubt have other modes of 
apprehending experience. Children and dogs do not use our adult categories; 
their experience is virtually chaotic. Space and time are not Kantian 
intuitions but patently artificial constructions, for the majority of the human 
race uses several times and several spaces. Although our categories are 
very useful, we cannot dogmatically deny that other categories 
unimaginable by us today might have proved just as serviceable as those 
we now use. 

If this is the case and if we may apply James' principles to a selected 
example, the syllogism called Barbara might have evolved as a fallacy. All 
Athenians are Greeks and all Greeks are human beings might have implied 
that some Athenians are non-human. Similarly, asserting the consequent 
could have formed a valid argument; and we would have reasoned that all 

numbers ending in zero are divisible by five, therefore twenty-five - since it 
is divisible by five - must end in zero. 

William James cannot dismiss these examples on the ground that they 
are illogical, for, according to him, the present forms of logic are not 
foolproof. Logic is too pat. It cannot grasp reality. So great is its failure 
that when the Rationalists came to recognize that the real world escapes 
their neat formulas, they invented unreal worlds from which these stubborn 
facts were barred. Kant's rational will emigrated to the world of noumena; 
F. H. Bradley escaped all contradictions somehow in the Absolute; and T. H. 
Green relied on a transcendent Mind. But this is only to say that human 
concepts falsify reality. 

Unlike Nietzsche, however, James utilizes his irrationalism to support a 
certain type of religion and ethics. Some notice of this must be taken, both 
for its own importance as well as in preparation for what follows. 

Absolutism and Pragmatism, says James, signify two different religious 
attitudes. One man insists that the world must be and shall be saved; the 
other believes that it may be. There is also another view; namely, the 
world cannot be saved. Pragmatism, therefore, is an attitude midway 
between pessimism and optimism; it may be called meliorism. The world 
may become better because we can make it better. 

James then offers this choice. Suppose the world's author came to you 
before creation and said, I am going to make a world not certain of being 
saved; it can be saved only if every agent does his level best [if any eases 
up on the job, the result will be unfortunate]; now, then, do you want the 
chance of taking part in this world, with its real dangers, with no guarantee 
of safety, or would you prefer to relapse into the slumber of non-entity 
from which I have just aroused you? 

Note that James does not offer us a choice between this dangerous world 
and one in which the good is absolutely guaranteed. 

Absolutism seems here to have been forgotten. The choice is between 
danger and Nirvana. And James is ready to make the choice for us. Any 
"normally constituted" person with his "healthy-minded buoyancy" would 
find such a universe exactly to his liking. Only a few "morbid minds," 
"Buddhists" who are "afraid of life," would refuse the opportunity. These 
latter may be religious in a sense, but they are not moral. "In the end it is 
our faith and not our logic that decides such questions." It is a faith in our 
fellow men that they will all do their level best. It is also a faith in 

superhuman forces, for there is a god - not an Almighty God who controls 
the outcome - but a limited and finite god who helps us along; in fact he is 
such a help that the danger is considerably reduced. Belief in this type of a 
god is true because it works. Of course we do not know certainly that this 
god exists, 

for we do not yet know certainly which type of religion is going to 
work best in the long run. [It is a matter for personal decision.] If 
radically tough, the hurly-burly of the sensible facts of nature will be 
enough for you, and you will need no religion at all.... But if you are 
neither tough nor tender.. .the type of pluralistic and moralistic religion 
that I have offered you is as good a religious synthesis as you are 
likely to find. 

In the section on Soren Kierkegaard, the question of personal decision 
was also acute - a decision apart from any objective knowledge. 
Kierkegaard personally made a choice that is not too different from James'; 
although Kirkegaard's Christianity is not what James would have preferred, 
still both of them - along with Nietzsche - say Yes to the universe. But 
when James calls his choice moral and other choices morbid, he seems to 
imply that it is more than a personal choice. How can James distinguish 
between a moral and an immoral choice? If he says that truth is that 
which works, and that which works is that which gives personal 
satisfaction, then the man who chooses Nirvana to danger seems to have 
achieved more satisfaction than a Pragmatist is likely to. Is it likely that all 
men will do their level best? Faith in mankind is an inspiring slogan, but the 
tough facts suggest that one or two men in history have not worked full 
time to make the world better. Assuredly James is consistent in choosing 
danger for himself, since his theory depends on his personal decision; but 
precisely for this irrational reason he cannot conclude that anyone else 
ought to make the same choice. 

Unfortunately this intellectualistic objection is based on the law of 
contradiction. It assumes that a principle of philosophy should apply 
consistently to all men. If success in satisfying personal preference 
justifies the choice of one man, success in satisfying a different preference 
should equally justify the opposite choice of another man. But it is 
consistency and logic that James disallows. 

Although Nietzsche and James stand outside the Christian tradition and 

are thus examples of the collapse of human reason apart from knowledge 
given by divine revelation, it was seen in the case of Kierkegaard that even 
the religious thinking of the post-Hegelian era had turned toward 
irrationalism. Therefore, to conclude the analysis of faith without reason, 
mention must be made of Kierkegaard's influence on the twentieth century, 
and for this purpose the thought of Emil Brunner shall be made to serve. 

Emil Brunner 

It is impossible and fortunately unnecessary to summarize all of 
Brunner's publications for our purposes. But even with the restriction of 
subject matter to irrationalism, one must break into the middle of things 
somewhat arbitrarily. An interesting discussion of error is a good beginning. 

Unlike those philosophers who stand so definitely outside the Christian 
tradition, Brunner - in common with the main Neo-orthodox position - 
recognizes that sin is a pervasive power in human life. Sin not only breaks 
out in gross crime, but it affects our inner thinking as well. Since sin 
alienates man from God, the mental effects of sin are seen more clearly 
and more frequently when we try to think about God than when we think 
about mathematics or physics. Not only does Brunner say that error due to 
sin is more obvious in theology than in physics, but he adds that 
mathematics and logic are so far removed from the religious center of life 
that in them there is no error at all. 

This observation, which at first sight may seem so plausible, is in fact a 
confusion between the objective and the subjective. In it, Brunner - 
following Kierkegaard's emphasis on subjectivity - seems to have denied 
the distinction between the knowing person and the truth known. It is a 
confusion between the how and the what. 

Let us more carefully examine the nature of error in mathematics and 
theology. Subjectively, the noetic deterioration caused by sin produces 
mistakes in arithmetic and geometry as well as in theology. We all have 
trouble with the stubs in our checkbooks. No doubt blunders in theology are 
more serious, but it is plainly false to say that there is no error in our 

Now, if Brunner should reply that although you and I make mistakes in 
mathematics, mathematics itself - mathematics objectively considered - 
contains no error, the answer is that theology itself - theology objectively 
considered - contains no error either. Subjectively we make mistakes in 

both; objectively the one is as true as the other. Hence Brunner's assertion 
that theology contains the most error, physics less error, and mathematics 
none at all is plausible only by confusing the objective and the subjective, 
that is, only by erasing the distinction between the thinking person who 
may make mistakes and the objectively true propositions. Or, better, it is a 
denial of objective truth. This is consistent with Kierkegaard's anti- 
intellectual passionate appropriation. God is the truth, Kierkegaard had said, 
but God and truth exist only for someone who believes; an unbeliever need 
not fear divine penalties because for an unbeliever God does not exist. 
Truth is entirely subjective. 

The subjectivizing of truth has serious consequences. For Brunner, 
propositions (or abstract truths as he calls them), are merely pointers to a 
so-called but poorly defined personal truth. Not only do words as sounds 
have a merely instrumental function, but the conceptual content itself is 
only a framework or receptacle for something else. Propositions are merely 
pointers, and pointers can be effective whether they are true or false. 
Brunner states very clearly that a pointer need not be true. Even a false 
proposition points, because God is free from the limitations of abstract 
truth and can reveal himself in false statements as easily as in true. 

Gott kann [says Brunner in Wahrheit als Begegnung, 88],wenn er will, 
einen Menschen sogar durch falsche Lehre sein Wort sagen. 

Now, if we put aside the amenities of oblique expression and speak 
pointedly and clearly, are we not forced to conclude that Brunner's words 
point to a god who tells lies? 

Could anything more clearly indicate that Neo-orthodoxy is more neo than 
orthodox? Brunner certainly does not stand in the tradition of John Calvin. 
To be sure, he uses the words revelation, transcendence, sin, and 
incarnation; but their intellectual similarity to the Calvinistic concepts is nil. 
One hesitates to classify Brunner with Nietzsche, but if they are not 
brothers, their common irrationalism makes them at least cousins. 

This is the point at which to stop. Although Brunner has published many 
books, it is not profitable to examine any language unless truth is distinct 
from error. A writer who gives them equal authority has repudiated the law 
of contradiction and meaningful conversation ceases. 

It is time, therefore, to draw a conclusion. Under the heading "Reason 
Without Faith," the history of modern philosophy was seen to fail in its 
attempt to base knowledge on unaided human resources. Even the secular 

philosophers - those who have no interest in divine revelation - admit that 
Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel did not produce a sound epistemology. In the 
present chapter both secular and religious irrationalism have been 
examined. Not only Nietzsche and James leave us in intellectual anarchy, 
but Neo-orthodoxy also has concluded that human reason is a failure. 
Although these latter writers have a doctrine of revelation, even in it they 
fail to distinguish truth from falsity. Instead of saying, Let God be true, but 
every man a liar; they say, Let God be false, and every man will be a liar 
too. This type of philosophy is self-contradictory, self-destructive, and 
intellectually stultifying. 

Therefore I wish to suggest that we neither abandon reason nor use it 
unaided, but - on pain of skepticism - acknowledge a verbal, propositional 
revelation of fixed truth from God. Only by accepting rationally 
comprehensible information on God's authority can we hope to have a sound 
philosophy and a true religion. 

Faith and Reason 

In the foregoing, under the heading "Reason and Faith," arguments were 
adduced that led to the repudiation of natural theology and the Thom ism of 
the Roman Catholic Church. The Renaissance and modern attempts to base 
knowledge on "Reason Without Faith" were next shown to result in a 
disastrous skepticism. And immediately above, the religious implications of 
irrationalism were indicated. It remains therefore to turn from negative 
criticism and to provide some constructive view of "Faith and Reason." 

A thoroughgoing construction would have to systematize a very large 
number of factors. Unfortunately but necessarily the present attempt will 
leave many questions unanswered. It is hoped, however, that the line of 
thought adopted will amply justify two main conclusions. First, in opposition 
to Deism, the Enlightenment, Spinozism, contemporary scientism, and all 
dogmatic systems that oppose reason to faith, it will be shown that reason 
and faith are not antithetical but harmonious. True, the harmony will not be 
of the Thomistic variety. Second, in opposition to secular and chiefly to 
religious irrationalism, faith will be given an intellectual content. These two 
conclusions depend largely on acceptable definitions of faith and reason. For 
Thomas Aquinas and John Locke, reason meant the sensory basis of all 
knowledge. Descartes and Spinoza had another meaning. Several definitions 
of faith also have occurred in the history of philosophy and theology. This 

attempt too must choose its own meanings. 

In addition to formal definitions, some background, history, and 
discussion are also needed. This material presents two serious difficulties. 
First, the history has to do with living religious movements and popular 
evangelistic preaching. Hence there is a welter of views that defies 
accurate generalization. If, however, no suggestion of universal agreement 
is made, fairness requires only that the examples chosen conspire to 
represent actual tendencies. The second serious difficulty is quite different 
from the first. Whereas the history centers on popular and therefore 
superficial phenomena, the discussion turns up exceptionally perplexing 
technicalities. Reason and faith, since they are human activities, ought to 
be viewed in the light of human personality as a whole. Some scheme of 
psychology is required. And the details are endless. In this connection some 
questions will be raised without being fully answered. They will nonetheless 
serve as a setting in which the two main conclusions can be amply 

Popular Religion 

The historical background in which these matters become parts of a 
living religion and find a place in popular preaching can for our purposes be 
conveniently restricted to fundamentalism in the United States. From the 
point of view of the Westminster Confession, that is, from the point of 
view of this entire argument, fundamentalism cannot be entirely condemned 
nor entirely commended. Most fundamentalists accept important sections 
of the Westminster Confession and reject other equally important sections. 
Partly for this reason, fundamentalism does not quite fit into any of the 
categories of the three preceding sections. The reference to it at the 
beginning of the last section might even appear unfair. Admittedly, its 
classification as a form of mysticism was inadequate. Fundamentalism's 
firm attachment to a few doctrines saves it from the excesses of 
irrationalism, but at the same time the fundamentalists can hardly be said 
to embrace a wholehearted intellectualism. Frequently they deplore reason, 
knowledge, and scholarship; they sometimes speak contemptuously of 
"mere human logic"; and one of their complaints against Romanism is that 
it reduces faith to mere intellectual assent. Yet, how can fundamental 
doctrines be defended by a general disparagement of reason? If they insist 
on any doctrine at all, how can they recommend a faith that is devoid of 

intellectual content? 

They do, however; that is, some do; at least they seem to. It has 
already been admitted that in a popular movement such as fundamentalism 
there is a wide variety of views. Perhaps the example about to be given of 
the irrationalistic strain in fundamentalism is one of the more extreme 
cases. Even so, an extreme case may be needed to produce the impression 
that ought to result from a long list of less extreme cases. At any rate the 
following conversation actually took place. It is neither fiction nor is it 

A minister of fundamentalist persuasion and evangelistic zeal asserted 
that there is little hope of understanding the Bible. Theology is abstruse and 
doubtful. However, God has given his people the power of discerning the 
hearts of men, and with this power a minister can decide who should and 
who should not be admitted to church membership. In the confused and 
confusing discussion that followed, as this minister tried in vain to list the 
factors discerned in the hearts of men, Romans 10:9-10 made their 
appearance. At first, in the rapid exchange of ideas, the minister was 
inclined to agree that anyone satisfying the conditions of that passage was 
a saved person. But when it was pointed out to him that belief in Christ's 
resurrection was a belief about history, an intellectual acceptance of an 
historical proposition, he quickly corrected himself and denied that a belief 
in Christ's resurrection entails salvation. Salvation, he asserted, is not a 
matter of belief at all. 

This viewpoint would certainly affect one's exegesis of Romans 10:9-10. 
It obviously divorces faith from belief, if faith saves and belief does not. 
But of course no one would expect such a minister to be very consistent in 
his assertions. The example may be extreme, but it serves the purpose of 
stressing the undeniable fact that fundamentalism is an inconsistent affair. 
Nor is it only the fundamentalism of the decades between the two World 
Wars that is inconsistent. The specific inconsistency relative to the 
intellectual content of faith has descended from earlier forms of 
Protestantism. Therefore, it is fitting to put the question in terms of a 
long-standing Protestant objection to Romanism. 

According to many Protestant writers, Roman Catholicism is seriously 
mistaken in making faith mere intellectual assent to certain dogmas. Faith, 
true faith in Christ, these writers say, is a personal trust rather than a 
"cold" intellectual belief. On the other side, the Catholic Encyclopedia 

states, "Non-Catholic writers have repudiated all idea of faith as intellectual 
assent" (1913, 752). 

Perhaps, however, the truth of the matter is not put accurately in either 
of these brief characterizations. The Catholic Encyclopedia has substantial 
grounds for charging Protestantism with anti-intellectualism, but its actual 
statement is ambiguous and in one of its two senses it is false. On the 
other side, the Protestant complaint about mere intellectual assent is 
extremely confused. To show this confusion it is necessary to turn from a 
description of popular religion to a discussion of psychological intricacies. 
This does not mean that the historical background is to be dismissed with 
one illustration; other descriptive examples will be cited; but the emphasis 
will rest more on the academic merits of the case than on examples of 
rash ministerial assertions. 

The Analysis of Personality 

In order to define faith, some analysis of personality is needed. Whatever 
faith is said to be, distinctions among conscious activities are presupposed. 
According to a very common opinion, consciousness consists of these 
parts: intellect, volition, and emotion. Faith may be placed under one of 
them, or it may be described as a combination of two of them, or possibly 
of all three. At any rate, some analytical scheme is required. Now, one of 
the many difficulties in this procedure arises from the necessity of 
expressing Biblical truth in non-Biblical terminology. In itself, the use of 
non-Biblical terminology cannot legitimately be objected to. The term 
Trinity does not occur in the Bible, but all trinitarians hold that the ideas 
and relationships for which the term stands are solidly Biblical. Similarly, 
the word emotion does not occur in the Bible, at least not in the King 
James Version. However, in the use of new terminology, a certain amount 
of caution is necessary. In the first place, one must make sure that the 
terms are unambiguously defined. Unfortunately, many discussions of faith 
fail to define intellect, will, or emotion. Those who use the terms seem to 
have but a nebulous idea of their meaning, and a little Socratic questioning 
soon reveals the unintelligibility. 

There is also another caution to be observed. After the new term is 
properly defined, its relation to the Biblical material must be clarified. The 
use of a non-Biblical term in theological discussion is evidence of a 
technical precision and economy that the Bible itself lacks. No Biblical term 

corresponds precisely to the new one, and the new term does not exactly 
reproduce any single term of Scripture. Therefore, complete confusion 
results if the new term is surreptitiously equated with some familiar term 
in the Bible. This has happened with great frequency in the identification of 
the Hebrew term heart with the emotion of popular psychology. The Biblical 
meaning of this term will be discussed below, but here emphasis falls on 
the general principle. When a new term is introduced into theology and is 
precisely defined, it must never be carelessly assumed but must always be 
carefully substantiated that the new term and definition adequately express 
Scriptural ideas. 

Then, does or does not the Bible support the popular tripartite division of 
the soul? Obviously, modern psychology offers divisions other than intellect, 
will, and emotion. Sigmund Freud specified the id, the ego, and the 
superego, plus a libido whose relation to them is not too clear. Granted that 
this Freudian division has an evil odor among the devout; still its very 
recognition of inherent evil resembles the Christian view of hereditary and 
total depravity sufficiently to claim a Christian's consideration. Or, perhaps 
some third analysis is better than either of these two. In any case, a hasty 
assumption cannot be permitted. 

Because care is called for, because on principle the analysis finally to be 
chosen must square with the Bible, and because - as was pointed out a 
moment ago - the heart of the Bible has often been identified with the 
emotions of popular psychology, a brief survey of the Biblical data must be 

The key term of Biblical psychology, especially in the Old Testament 
where the fundamental principles are laid down, is the term heart. When 
contemporary Christians, often in evangelistic preaching, contrast the head 
and the heart, they are in effect equating the heart with the emotions. Such 
an antithesis between head and heart is nowhere found in Scripture. On the 
contrary, this usage at once indicates a departure from the Old Testament. 
In the Psalms and the prophets the heart designates the focus of personal 
life. It is the organ of conscience, of self-knowledge, indeed of all 
knowledge. One may very well say that the Hebrew heart is the equivalent 
of the English word self. 

To understand Old Testament usage, consider the following few 

Genesis 6:5 Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . 

Genesis 8:21 The Lord said in his heart, “I will never again.... 

Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham . . .said in his heart, “Shall a child be born. . 

Genesis 20:6 You did this in the integrity of your heart.... 

1 Samuel 2:1 My heart rejoices in the Lord.... 

1 Samuel 2:35 A faithful priest who shall do according to what is in my heart 
and in my mind. 

Psalm 4:4 Meditate within your heart. 

Psalm 7:10 God, who saves the upright in heart. 

Psalm 12:2 They speakidly... with... a double heart. 

Psalm 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” 

Psalm 15:2 He. ..speaks the truth in his heart. 

Isaiah 6:10 Lest they ...understand with their heart. 

Isaiah 10:7 Nor does his heart think so. 

Isaiah 33:18 Your heart will meditate on terror. 

Isaiah 44:18, 19 He has shut.. .their hearts, so that they cannot 
understand. And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge 
nor understanding. 

As there are somewhat over 750 occurrences of the word heart in the 
Old Testament, these quotations give a meagre sample. But they are 
enough to show that many verses would make complete nonsense if the 
term were translated emotion. For example, if this identification were 
made, it would be necessary to say, They speak idly.. .and with double 
emotions do they speak; and, He speaks truth in his emotions; and, lest 
they understand with their emotions. Obviously this substitution results in 
nonsense. It is not to be denied that the Biblical term heart can and does 
occasionally refer to the emotions, as in 1 Samuel 2:1, though even here 
there must be some intellectual understanding. But although the emotions 
are sometimes referred to, the term heart more often signifies the 
intellect. It is the heart that speaks, meditates, thinks, and understands. At 
the same time, it cannot be uniformly translated intellect as distinguished 
from the will or the emotions. This is not because it excludes or is 
antithetical to the mind, the understanding, or the intellect, but because it 
includes them all and signifies the total personality. The term heart in 
reality means the self, or, with some colloquial emphasis, one's deepest 
self. And as the self acts emotionally, volitionally, and intellectually, the 
three activities are each represented in the several occurrences of the 

term. Although the term heart includes the emotions and therefore cannot 
be translated intellect, still the intellectual reference occurs much more 
frequently than any other; and this preponderance of the intellectual 
references shows the preponderance of the intellect in the personality. 

It is extremely difficult to appreciate the motives, at least in the case of 
those who are attached to the Bible, which lead to a disparagement of the 
intellect. Why should emotion be the only way or even the best way to 
God? Why is it that thinking, meditating, understanding are to be 
condemned? Why is knowing, conceiving, or apprehending God a poor way, 
an impossible way, or an impious way of worshiping him? What is wrong 
with intellectual activity? 

Then too, this denigration of the intellect in favor of the emotions, and 
possibly the traditional tripartite division itself, may entail a so-called 
faculty psychology that contradicts the Biblical emphasis on the unitary 
personality. Parenthetically it may be noted that this applies to Freud also. 
This type of psychology is not to be condemned so much for its unsavory 
overtones as it is for its schizophrenic splitting of the personality. Freudian 
psychology is faculty psychology with a vengeance. 

The Bible does not suggest a faculty psychology. Although discussions 
such as these can hardly avoid using the word intellect, let it be clear that 
there is no "intellect": there are intellectual acts; there are no "emotions": 
there are fluctuating surges of fear, anger, dejection, and exaltation. 
Similarly there is no "will," no "id," no "superego," but a unitary person. 

Thus the common, modern contrast between the head and the heart is 
evidently unscriptural. There is a Scriptural contrast. It is the contrast 
between the heart and the lips, for Matthew is quoting Isaiah when he says, 
"These people... honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." 
When the Scriptural contrast is replaced by an alien faculty psychology, the 
possibility cannot be ruled out that other Scriptural theses are discarded at 
the same time. 

Trust and Assent 

Two examples of this faulty psychology, especially this unscriptural 
belittling of intellectual activity, will be described. Neither one is exactly 
trivial; the second indeed affects one's total response to Christianity. The 
first, a common confusion of thought frequently heard from evangelical 
pulpits, may do less damage because its implications are not so obvious. 

Yet it too can be symptomatic of wider aberrations. 

In describing the nature of faith, fundamentalists, evangelicals (and even 
modernists in a certain way) stress the element of trust. This is of course 
what the Catholic Encyclopedia, as quoted above, referred to. A preacher 
may draw a parallel between trusting in Christ and trusting in a chair. 
Belief that the chair is solid and comfortable, mere intellectual assent to 
such a proposition, will not rest your weary bones. You must, the preacher 
insists, actually sit in the chair. Or, as another minister recently said, mere 
belief that a bank is safe and sound will not protect your cash or give you 
any interest. You must actually put your money in the bank. Similarly, so 
goes the argument, you can believe all that the Bible says about Christ, and 
it will do you no good. Such illustrations as these are constantly used in 
spite of the fact that the Bible itself says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and you will be saved." 

There is here at least a lack of analysis, a confounding of something 
Scriptural and something that is not, a failure to equate two sides of an 
analogy. The weak point of such illustrations is that they compare faith 
with the physical act of sitting in a chair and distinguish it from belief. 
Belief in Christ does not rest your weary bones, for belief is mere assent. 
In addition you must actually sit down or deposit your money in the bank. 
But this analogy does not hold. The distinction between believing that a 
chair is comfortable and the act of sitting in it is perfectly obvious. But in 
the spiritual realm there is no physical action; there is mental action only: 
Hence the act of sitting down, if it means anything at all, must refer to 
something completely internal and yet different from belief. Belief in the 
chair has been made to stand for belief in Christ, and according to the 
illustration belief in Christ does not save. Something else is needed. But 
what is this something else that corresponds to the physical act of sitting 
down? This is the question that is seldom if ever answered. The 
evangelists put all their stress on sitting down, but never identify its 

When such one-sided illustrations are not used, the abstract phrases 
disparaging intellectual assent are equally perplexing. Consider the words of 
Dr. Thomas Manton in his Commentary on the Epistle of James. Dr. Manton 
was a devout and pious Anglican, who - although he favored the restoration 
of Charles II - was one of those ministers who was ejected from his pulpit 
by the Act of Uniformity of 1662. His Commentary on James is a most 

admirable and extremely profitable work. Yet when discussing the present 
subject, he uses phrases that are hard to understand. For example, on 
James 2: 19 he writes, 

This instance showeth what faith he disputeth against; namely such 
as consisteth in bare speculation and knowledge.... Such assent, though 
it be not saving, yet so far as it is historical it is good, as a common 
work and preparation.... Bare assent to the articles of religion doth not 
infer true faith.... It is not only assensus axiomati.... There is not only 
assent in faith, but consent.... True believing is not an act of the 
understanding only, but a work of all the heart.... 

Insofar as these phrases and the section from which they are quoted 
indicate the necessity of a faith that produces works, no good Christian 
could in the least demur. It is Dr. Manton's particular excellence to have 
emphasized this theme of the Epistle. If by "bare speculation" and "naked 
illumination" one means a profession discovered to be hypocritical because 
devoid of virtuous conduct, let us all insist that this is far removed from 
saving faith. On this point Dr. Manton notices the phrase of James 2:14, "If 
someone says he has faith," and remarks that the man may be supposed to 
have no faith at all. His profession is hypocritical. He does not necessarily 
believe any Christian doctrine. This situation is simply the Scriptural 
contrast between the heart and the lips. Hypocrisy too is an intellectual act. 
It is an intent to deceive. But surely the fact that hypocrisy is intellectual 
does not imply that faith as an intellectual act is hypocrisy. If one 
intellectual act is reprehensible, it does not follow that a different 
intellectual act is. 

Now, if Dr. Manton were merely rebuking hypocrisy and insisting that true 
faith is followed by overt acts of charity, there would be no argument. 
Nevertheless, although such is Dr. Manton's chief emphasis, there are slight 
intimations of something further. Aside from the emphasis on good works, 
bare assent is contrasted with consent. He had said, "There is not only 
assent in faith, but consent." Consent no doubt refers to some internal 
rather than overt action. What is this consent? Is it intellectual? If not, is 
it emotional? Or does Dr. Manton think that it is an act of will? These 
questions Dr. Manton does not answer. He does not define or explain the 
term consent. He leaves it as a mere word. Hence it is of no help to us. 

Again the previous question comes to the fore: If belief is represented by 

believing that the chair is solid, and this is taken as mere intellectual 
assent, what is represented by the different and separate act of actually 
sitting down? Now, in a sense there is another factor; but when it is 
identified, it will not turn out to be a different and separate act analogous 
to sitting down. It will still be the same internal, mental act of assent, 
though viewed in a different light. The difficulty in all this discussion 
derives from the assumption that an act of "mere" intellectual assent is 
possible. To this act the zealous evangelist wants to add emotions. Could it 
not be that what needs to be added is not emotion, but an act of will? 
Only, this "addition" is not really an addition at all, and a "mere" act of will 
must be recognized to be just as impossible as "mere" assent. Undoubtedly 
faith in Christ involves what is ordinarily and confusedly called an act of 
will. Whether faith requires emotions or not - and if so, which emotions it 
requires - are unimportant questions. Emotions by definition are fluctuating; 
an emotional man is unstable and few people have a high opinion of him; 
whereas, throughout our constantly changing emotional states, our beliefs 
and the volitions founded on them remain comparatively fixed. And, to 
return, faith surely involves the will. 

However, when an attempt is made to use the illustration of the chair, 
the difficulties of faculty psychology return in full force and the whole 
collapses. Does not the language that includes such phrases as "mere 
intellectual assent" betray its unscriptural foundation in schizophrenic 
faculty psychology? Certainly intellection and volition do not occur in 
isolation. There can be no volition without intellection. Even the illustration 
of sitting in a chair shows this much. A person cannot will to sit in a chair 
unless he believes that there is a chair to be sat upon. And conversely 
there can be no intellection without volition, for intellectual assent is itself 
an act of will. 

If the Scholastics demur at this last proposition and try to exempt the 
conclusions of demonstrative syllogisms from volitional acceptance, they do 
so only by ignoring the voluntary assent required by the premises. The 
Scholastics - and possibly more so the seventeenth-century Rationalists - 
may insist that logic itself is not a voluntary choice, for no one can choose 
to think otherwise. If someone thinks otherwise, it is an involuntary error. 
Now, in the following chapter on language it will be strenuously maintained 
that logic is not stipulative but necessary and irreplaceable. But to argue 
that the necessary cannot be an act of will presupposes the theory of free 

will, and free will will be disposed of in the final chapter. At any rate, the 
use of logic requires a voluntary act of attention, as does every other 
belief. One may choose simply not to think; or, rather, if he thinks, he 
must choose to pay attention. 

Furthermore, the forms of logic, devoid of other content, do not settle 
questions of faith. The immediate subject has to do, as will shortly be 
made still clearer, with theological and creedal propositions. These cannot 
be deduced involuntarily from the forms of logic. Therefore, within the 
range pertinent to questions of faith and reason, it may be asserted that 
there can be no volition without intellection and no intellection without 
volition. They should not be regarded as two separate faculties, nor even as 
two separate acts. The common opinion that an act of volition is different 
from an act of intellection is an illusion which results from the restriction 
of attention to physical acts such as sitting down. But when the act is not 
physical, when it is the act of believing a proposition to be true, the 
supposed two acts so interpenetrate in a single mental state that they 
become indistinguishable. One can distinguish belief in a chair or in 
mathematics from belief in Christ, of course; that is, the particular objects 
thought or willed can be distinguished; but the mental act is equally 
volitional and intellectual. This is what is implied by saying that the person 
is a unit. For some superficial purposes, mainly with respect to initiating 
physical motions, a popular distinction in emphasis is made; but the 
common threefold division of the person into emotion, intellect, and will is 
as misleading as the id, the ego, and the superego. 

There is also a further complication in the notion of belief or assent that 
motivates the antipathy to intellectual activity. Those who say that 
intellectual belief in Christ is of no value not only fall into the errors 
exposed above, but they also in some instances fail to distinguish assent 
from understanding. When they attack "mere assent" they probably mean - 
though it is rash to guess what some people mean - that salvation is not 
obtained by knowing the propositions in the Bible and understanding their 
meaning. Obviously this is true. Many intelligent men know very well what 
the Bible says; they understand it far better than many Christians; but they 
are not saved and they are not Christians. The reason is that though they 
understand, they do not believe. They know what the Bible says, but they 
do not assent to it. But because understanding and believing are both 
intellectual acts, those who think carelessly identify them. The distinction 

between knowing the meaning of a proposition and believing it seems to be 
too subtle, and therefore some preachers conclude that "mere belief" is of 
no value. This conclusion is fallaciously drawn. Just because one intellectual 
act - the understanding of what words mean - is less than faith, it does 
not follow that faith or belief is not intellectual. 

Exegesis will reveal that faith, Christian faith, is not to be distinguished 
from belief. Consider Hebrews 11:1. "Faith is the substance of things hoped 
for, the evidence of things not seen." This may not be a formal definition of 
faith, but it must be accepted as a true statement about faith. The 
American Revised Version says that "faith is assurance of things hoped for, 
a conviction of things not seen." Assurance and conviction are belief, strong 
belief, voluntary belief, and as intellectual as you please. They are 
intellectual because their objects are meaningful propositions. Their objects 
are truths. The heroes of faith, whom the chapter goes on to describe, all 
believed some definite intellectual truths. In these cases, admittedly, their 
faith was followed by physical action. Abel offered a sacrifice and Noah 
built the ark. But the physical actions were not the faith itself. Faith is 
something internal, mental, intellectual; as Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we 
understand" something about the creation of the world. Surely this is an 
intellectual act. And in explaining why "without faith it is impossible to 
please [God]," verse six says, "for he who comes to God must believe that 
he is." As a reply to those who disparage intellection with the illustration of 
the chair, the considerations adduced seem to be sufficient. 


The many confusions relative to faith, assent, volition, understanding, and 
so on were used as a first example of a faulty psychology. There is now a 
second example. Underlying the faulty psychology that gives rise to 
misleading illustrations about chairs and banks is a distaste for creeds. 
Creeds are too intellectual, and the type of religion we have been discussing 
has strong tendencies to the emotional. Sometimes it hardly recognizes a 
role for volition. But at any rate it exhibits a distaste for creeds. Perhaps, 
however, this distaste should not be cited as a second example of the 
faulty psychology. It might be better to take the distaste for creeds and 
the faulty psychology itself as two examples of an underlying anti- 

From the standpoint of Calvinism, anti-intellectualism - a disparagement 

of creeds, an essentially emotional outlook or a reliance on some ineffable 
mystical experience - is a far more serious error in religion than some 
unfortunate illustration in popular preaching. It may sound pious to 
minimize belief in a creed and to exalt faith in a person, but the implication 
is that it makes little or no difference what a man believes. Religion - I 
refuse to say Christianity - thus becomes non-doctrinal. This anti- 
intellectualism, clearly, is a broader theory than faculty psychology; and if 
faculty psychology conflicts with Christianity at one or two points, the 
broader theory will conflict at many more - in fact, at all points. 

To return for a moment to Hebrews 11:6, we see that faith in God is 
impossible without a creed. The first article of this necessary creed is that 
God exists. And how obvious! Can a man come to God if he believes that 
God does not exist? To turn an illustration back upon its originators, can 
you take your money to a bank which you believe does not exist? It is not 
even necessary to put the matter so strongly. The blatant atheist who 
believes that God does not exist will not come, of course. But what of a 
man, not a blatant atheist, who merely fails to believe that God does exist? 
Can such a man any more easily come to God? Hebrews says, No; he who 
comes to God must believe that he is. 

This creed has also a second article which must be believed before one 
can come to God. If a man believes merely that God exists, he will not 
come: God in this case might be an indifferent deity with no concern for 
man; he might even be annoyed at a man's bothering him; or possibly this 
god might be some impersonal force. Therefore, before a man comes to 
God, he must believe that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek 
him. This, of course, implies that God is personal. What an extensive 
theology we are getting into! And how intellectual we have already become, 
for we are now using the logical form of implication. 

The slow progress of this argument may provoke an impatient rejoinder 
that nonetheless intellectual belief is of no value. Do not the devils believe 
and shudder? Misinterpretation of this verse in James has gone to the 
extremity of making it conclusive against any saving efficacy of belief in 
Christ. Yet the Scriptures say, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you 
will be saved," and, "for with the heart one believes to righteousness." The 
Epistle of James should not be so interpreted as to produce a contradiction 
with the apostolic preaching in Acts. The belief that causes the devils to 
shudder is a belief that God is one. Nothing more is said. Certainly it is not 

a belief that Christ died for them. To show, as James does, that some 
intellectual belief is inadequate, to show that some is fruitless, or even to 
show that some is condemnatory is not to show that true faith is not 
intellectual. The verse in James does not destroy the argument of this 
chapter to the effect that faith requires a creed and must have intellectual 
content. So also the points of the creed so far enumerated from Hebrews 
are not said to be sufficient for salvation. They are said to be 
indispensable. No one can come to God without this creed. For all its 
insufficiency, its necessity must be emphasized because of the 
contemporary disparagement of creeds and intellect by fundamentalists and 
by the modernists as well. 

For the same reasons, faith in Christ, no less than faith in God, requires 
intellectual assent to theological propositions. The disjunction between faith 
in a person and belief in a creed is a delusion. None of us proceeds on such 
a principle in our human affairs. Trust in a person is a knowledge of a 
person; it is a matter of assenting to certain propositions. Suppose I ask 
you to lend me a sum of money and to trust me to repay it. On the 
pleasant assumption that you have the money and do not immediately need 
it (this is an intellectual belief too), will you make the loan without 
believing certain propositions about me? Suppose you have heard that I am 
dishonest? Suppose you believe I will skip out on you? Could you, with 
these beliefs, say that intellectual assent is trivial and that you will trust 
me all the same? Not many people are so stupid in business affairs. This 
stupidity is reserved for non-intellectual, emotional religion. It is in religion 
that the "heart" is said to be important, but not the head. But if this were 
true, we could trust Christ for salvation without believing that he is 
trustworthy, without believing that he can save, without believing that his 
blood cleanses from all sin. We would need no creed, no statement of the 
atonement, no historical information about Jesus; we would need only a 
comfortable feeling around the non-Biblical "heart." 

Although there have been mystics and assorted anti-intellectuals in every 
age, although the influence of Kant, Schleiermacher, and Ritschl have made 
anti-intellectualism popular in the form of modernism, and although neither 
Neo-orthodoxy nor the ecumenical movement has returned to the historic 
creeds (or to any creeds), the main current of Christianity has always been 
intellectualistic. There has been variation of emphasis, of course; but 
creeds or statements of belief have not been abandoned. There has always 

been some recognition of the primacy of the intellect. Even the primacy of 
the will, when in medieval Augustinianism it was opposed to the Thomistic 
primacy of the intellect, did not devalue intellectual currency as 
contemporary irrationalism does. And if, as suggested above, the intellect 
and the will cannot really be separated, the medieval controversy militates 
all the less against the intellect. 

This long argument has had to treat of many details, not all taken from 
the same source. To gather the complexities together, let it be 
remembered that the Bible teaches the unity of the person; that faculty 
psychology is unscriptural; that the Old Testament term heart is far more 
intellectual than its use in present day preaching; that faith is an inner or 
mental act, not properly compared with sitting on a chair; that Hebrews 
shows the necessity of creeds; and that belief in a creed is both 
intellectual and voluntary. Woven together like a tartan, some of the lesser 
strands of the argument may be hard to keep in mind; but the overall 
pattern should be obvious enough. However, before a final conclusion can be 
drawn, the Biblical position on faith and reason should be given a more 
definite and positive expression. This is all the more necessary because, in 
addition to the many preceding complexities, there is still another most 
important factor, so far hardly mentioned. 

The Reformed Faith 

The clearest expressions of Reformation theology and the most faithful 
to the Scriptural data are to be found in the Reformed tradition. Three 
Reformed writers, therefore, will first be cited. 

Calvin (Institutes I, xv, 6-8), after he summarizes some philosophical 
analyses of the soul's faculties and indicates that they are plausible but far 
from certain - particularly because the philosophers ignore the depravity of 
human nature due to sin - proposes a twofold, not a threefold, division of 
the soul: understanding and will. There is no power in the soul other than 
these two. Understanding, he says, discriminates between objects, and the 
will chooses what the understanding pronounces good. The understanding is 
the guide and governor of the soul; the will always respects its authority 
and waits for its judgment. Charles Hodge also, speaking of man before the 
fall, says, "His reason was subject to God; his will was subject to his 
reason." f 101 And finally, J. Gresham Machen states, "it will be one chief 
purpose of the present little book to defend the primacy of the intellect." 


It is significant that these writers say so little about the emotions. The 
emphasis is on the intellect. Machen in his "little book" speaks of the 
emotional aspect of faith apparently but once (135); but the word is all that 
appears, for the context has nothing to do with the emotions. 

The quotations just made from the three authors might be taken to 
indicate that they favor the Thomistic primacy of the intellect rather than 
the Augustinian primacy of the will. They seem to say that the intellect 
invariably and automatically dominates the will. Calvin indeed said that it is 
the office of the will to choose what the understanding shall have 
pronounced to be good and that the will always respects its authority 
(Institutes, I, xv, 7). Now, there have been plausible Aristotelian arguments 
to the effect that the will automatically chooses what appears as good to 
the intellect. Freedom of the will from the intellect is thus repudiated. And 
possibly Calvin had this theory in mind when he wrote this section. But if 
we stress the unity of the person more than Calvin did and insist that 
intellectual assent is an act of volition as Augustine so broadly hinted, the 
radical distinction between will and intellect, necessary if one is to 
command and the other to obey, falls away. This bears also on the 
simplicity of the divine nature and will be referred to again in the last 

The primacy of the intellect, then, cannot be a power automatically 
exercised over the volition regarded as a separate faculty. This would 
violate the unity of the person. Instead of the phrase the primacy of the 
intellect, the essential idea might better be expressed as the primacy of 
truth. And the primacy is one of authority rather than of psychological 
power. The older forms of expression generate an old perplexity dating 
from the Platonic dialogues. On the assumption that the intellect dominates 
the will, it would follow that no one does wrong knowingly. All evil is due to 
ignorance, and education guarantees correct conduct. The ambiguities 
hidden in this apparently simple language are enormous. But if we speak of 
the primacy of truth, we can avoid, even if we do not solve, these 
perplexities. The primacy of truth will mean that our voluntary actions 
ought to conform to the truth. Obviously sometimes they do not. If it is 
true that worshiping God is good, we ought to worship him. Perhaps we 
choose not to worship God, but the truth is superior in right to our will. 
This way of putting the matter extends as well to the voluntary choice of 

belief. We may choose to believe a truth, or we may choose to believe a 
lie. Both types of choice actually occur. But the primacy of truth means 
that we ought to believe the truth and we ought not to believe the lie. 

It was no doubt the complicated psychological condition of choosing to do 
wrong that led Hodge to restrict his primacy of the intellect to man's 
original state of righteousness before the fall. The psychological conditions 
of choosing evil, as even secular philosophers have discovered, are 
exceedingly intricate. As the Scripture says, the heart of man is deceitful 
above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: Who can know it? This 
raises a most important point, the fact of sin, which so far has not been 
brought into the argument. 

Any discussion of man's mind and powers, to be at all Biblical, must take 
into account the effects of sin. Calvin, Hodge, and Machen were keenly 
aware of this. They all knew that the entrance of sin into man's life altered 
his disposition as immediately created. In speaking of the intellectual 
approach to Christianity, Machen says, "there is nothing wrong with the 
method itself. ..but the trouble lies in the application of the method.... If you 
take account of all the facts, you will be convinced of the truth of 
Christianity; but you cannot take account of all the facts if you ignore the 
fact of sin.' T 121 

In another place, he explains his meaning a little more clearly: 

That does not mean that we finite creatures can find out God by our 
own searching; but it does mean that God has made us capable of 
receiving the information which he chooses to give.... So our reason is 
certainly insufficient to tell us about God, unless he reveals himself; 
but it is capable (or would be capable if it were not clouded by sin) of 
receiving revelation when once it is qiven. f 131 

The effect of sin, though hardly mentioned before the last two 
paragraphs, cannot be excluded as a factor in this discussion. There is 
some evidence that those who disparage the intellect do so because of a 
superficial view of sin. Man as a unitary personality, man as a whole, is 
depraved. If any doctrine is plainly taught in Scripture, it is the Calvinistic 
doctrine of total depravity. Sin affects man in his every part. But those who 
make religion an emotion and discount intellect deny or at least dilute the 
terrible Biblical words of condemnation. They wish to reserve a part of 
man's nature pure and undefiled. Therefore, they make religion a matter of 

emotion because the emotions are supposed to be sinless, whereas the 
intellect is corrupt. Thus anti-intellectualism is combined with a denial of 
the unity of the person. 

This is not to say that all fundamentalists deny the effect of sin on the 
emotions. And even when these views are entertained, they are not usually 
expressed in such pointed language. The summary of the last paragraph 
may be called an exaggeration. It is to be admitted also that frequently 
these implications are no more than semi-conscious. This would explain 
why sometimes an explicit statement of them draws forth a heated denial. 
Nonetheless, there are instances where the emotions are given a privileged 
position. How else is the following material to be understood? 

The Rev. John R. W. Stott of London has published a booklet titled 
Fundamentalism and Evangelism. In a paragraph defending the emotions, he 
rather clearly equates the heart with the emotions, when he says, "Jesus 
told us to love the Lord our God with all our heart as well as with our 
mind" (28); and in the next sentence he distinguishes between the mind, 
the heart, and the will. From page 20 to page 28 he repeatedly says that 
the mind is finite, fallen, hardened, blinded, and darkened. Now, this is 
perfectly true, and there are other truths that Mr. Stott asserts. But it is 
most significant, after all those condemnations of the intellect, to find that 
he says not one word against the emotions. So far as he expresses himself, 
we are at liberty to conclude that all the emotions are pure and holy. It 
would seem, therefore, that anti-intellectualism, at least as expressed by 
some fundamentalists, has a tendency to split the personality and to 
minimize the seriousness of sin. 

But this is not Christianity. Christianity includes the primacy of the 
intellect and the sovereign claims of truth. There is no antithesis between 
the head and the heart, no depreciation of intellectual belief. Christianity 
cannot exist without the truth of certain definite historical propositions. To 
deny the truth of such propositions or to call them symbols of some 
mystic experience is not Christianity. On the contrary, by faith we 
understand that God created the universe; by faith we assent to the 
proposition that God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him; by 
faith we know that Jesus rose from the dead. 

The judgment of the Catholic Encyclopedia as quoted near the beginning 
of this section is ambiguous. If it meant to say that some "Non-Catholic 
writers have repudiated all idea of faith as intellectual assent," it states the 

unpleasant truth. If, however, it meant to insinuate that all "Non-Catholic 
writers have repudiated all idea of faith as intellectual assent," it is 
mistaken. For Reformed theologians will ever assert that if the creedal 
propositions are untrue, and if truth has no claim upon our assent, then 
Christianity would not be worth its hypocritical propagation. 

Definition of Reason 

Sufficient Biblical grounds have now been given to justify the intellectual 
character of faith. From this side of the question, therefore, antagonism 
with reason is no longer to be expected. What now remains is a definition 
of reason that will remove antagonism from the other side of the 
antithesis. The clarification of the nature of faith was undertaken in 
reference to the distortions of fundamentalism; the clarification of reason 
envisages the secular accusations that Christianity is unreasonable or 
irrational. For example, An Introduction to Modern Philosophy, by Alburey 
Castell, in introducing the Thomistic arguments, correctly distinguishes 
between natural theology and revealed theology. But frequently thereafter 
the author describes natural theology as rational theology, and the student 
receives the impression that revealed theology is irrational. Sometimes also 
the charge that Christianity is irrational comes from those that profess to 
be religious. They may even appeal to revelation. But, not to repeat the 
discussion of Neo-orthodoxy, in such cases religion and revelation are 
founded on common experience, so that supernatural revelation still appears 

As an example, the religious philosophy of the late Edgar Sheffield 
Brightman will serve. Reason, for Brightman, 

is the body of most general principles used by the mind in organizing 
experience.... Revelation is not the body of most general principles 
used by the mind. Revelation must be tested by reasonableness, not 
reasonableness by revelation... it is not a criterion of truth, but 
presupposes a criterion by which it is judged.£14] 

[Rjeason - concrete and inclusively empirical, not merely abstract 
and formal - is the supreme source of religious insiqht. r 151 

In opposition to this, Christianity should refuse to define reason as a 

body of general principles empirically obtained. Brightman's faith in a 
concrete empirical body of general principles is a misplaced faith. The 
history of Rationalism and its outcome in irrationalism show that no such 
body of principles can be obtained. Indeed, it is significant that Brightman 
himself was unable to state these principles. In one place, £16] he seems to 
try by offering a definition of reason in nine norms; but the norms he 
specifies, instead of being empirical, rather clearly resemble the so-called 
formal logic he elsewhere sets aside. f 171 Brightman was therefore unable 
to apply his theory. 

Since all attempts to obtain knowledge apart from revelation have failed, 
the Christian, in the next place, need only contradict Brightman's 
unsupported contention that experience cannot be judged by principles 
derived from revelation. The psychologists of today emphasize guilt and 
fear; the Existentialists confront man with death. Cannot these experiences 
be understood in the light of information God has revealed? This revelation 
need not be tested - in fact, cannot be tested - by reasonableness in 
Brightman's sense of the word, for Brightman's reasonableness does not 

Finally, since the accusation of unreasonableness fails because the 
philosophies that make it collapse into skepticism, the Christian now need 
only identify reason with that which Brightman called abstract and formal. 
Brightman's terms in this connection are a little unfortunate, and the next 
chapter will show that the modern theory of logical formalism is not to be 
adopted. Nonetheless, reason may well be defined as logic. It should not be 
indentified with experience. When a Christian theologian is deducing 
consequences from Scriptural premises, he is reasoning - he is using his 
reason. To require him to test Scripture by sensation in order to avoid the 
charge of irrationality is itself irrational prejudice. 

With this conception of reason there no longer remains any conflict 
between reason and faith. The futility of Rationalism and the insanity of 
irrationalism are equally avoided. Truth becomes obtainable. And this, we 
believe, should constitute a strong recommendation for Christian revelation. 

[1] Burtt, Types of Religious Philosophy, 454. First edition. 

[2] David S. Clark, Syllabus of Systematic Theology, 62. 

[3] See the author's Thales to Dewey, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, 

[4] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, I, 211. 

[5] Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, chapter IV. 

[6] Anyone unconvinced by this brief account must read the first dozen 
pages of Part I of Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge. 

[7] The next few paragraphs follow Edward Caird, Hegel, 134ff. 

[8] This is argued in brilliant detail in The Phenomenology of Mind, chapters 

[9] Mystic Theology, 1:1. 

[10] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, 99. 

[11] 1 Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? 26. See also 49, 51. 

[12] J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? 130. 

[13] J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? 51. 

[14] Religious Values, 21-22. 

[15] A Philosophy of Religion, 192. 

[16] Nature and Values, 106. 

[171 For a more complete discussion, see my A Christian View of Men and 
Things, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, 153-190, 207, 213. 

Inspiration and Language 

T he conclusion of the previous chapter was the thesis that revelation is 
needed as the basis of a rational worldview. In the study of religion, and 
generally in modern philosophy, attempts to establish truth without a word from 
God have resulted in a frustrated irrationalism 11 Hence constructive thought 
must presuppose information that has been divinely given. This is to assume that 
the Bible is the Word of God; and since God cannot lie, his Word must be the 
truth. Obviously this raises the problem of verbal inspiration. The first part of this 
chapter will give some of the older background of this subject. More recently, 
inspiration and revelation have been discussed from the standpoint of the 
possibilities of language. Is language a fit instrument for revelation? Such a 
question requires a twofold discussion. First, there is the study of language, its 
nature, its origin, its possibilities, and its relation to inspiration. This is a topic of 
importance in its own right. Then, second, there is the question of method. Can it 
be successfully maintained that divine revelation, as the presupposition of all 
knowledge, offers a solution to the problems of language? 

The Biblical Claims 

The inspiration of the Scriptures, bearing as it does on the truth and 
authority of the Word of God, is of such obvious importance to Christianity 
that no elaborate justification is needed for discussing the subject. Indeed, 
it is even pardonable to begin with some very elementary material (not only 
pardonable, but in fact indispensable). No discussion of inspiration can 
contribute much of value without taking into account the elementary 
Scriptural data. These data must be kept in mind. Yet, unfortunately, a 
number of these details have faded from our aging memories. More 
unfortunately, the younger generation by and large has never learned the 
Scriptural data. In the last two or three centuries Christianity has suffered 
a slow but steady decline, and at present the theological standards of most 
seminaries are so low that the rich detail of Presbyterianism and 
Puritanism is never presented to the students. Therefore, first of all, some 
simple statements must be made about the doctrine of inspiration as it 
was commonly explained a hundred years ago. 

It was in 1840 that Louis Gaussen published his famous little book 
Theopneustia. Gaussen was a Swiss theologian who, like J. Gresham Machen 
in this century, was deposed from the ministry and driven out of the 

church, not because of unbelief, but because of his adherence to the truth 
of the Scriptures. And his book Theopneustia is a defense of inspiration. In 
it Gaussen amasses the astounding amount of material that the Scriptures 
have to say about themselves. And although that was more than a century 
ago, no one should approach the question of inspiration without a good 
knowledge of Gaussen's work, or at least without a good knowledge of what 
the Bible has to say about itself. 

Gaussen opens his survey of the Scriptural data by quoting the well- 
known verse, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." Here his 
pertinent observation is, "This statement admits of no exception;... it is all 
that is written; meaning thereby the thoughts after they have received the 
stamp of language." Then he proceeds to support this assertion with a 
tremendous number of references. 

For example, Gaussen lists ten instances of phrases such as, "The mouth 
of the Lord has spoken," and "The Lord has spoken." Only slightly different 
are other references which say, "1 will open your mouth to speak in their 
midst," and "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was on my 
tongue." Or, again, "The Word of God came to Shemaiah," "the Word of God 
came to Nathan," "the Word of God came to John," "the Word that came to 
Jeremiah from the Lord." Beyond these there are the instances where it is 
said, "The Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth;" "I will be with your 
mouth;" "Lord... who by the mouth of your servant David have said;" and 
"this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the 
mouth of David concerning Judas." 

One should note well that the Spirit-given message is not merely the 
general idea of the passage, but rather the very words. 

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 I will raise up for them a Prophet. ..and I will 
put my words in his mouth.. .and.. .whoever will not hear my words 
which he speaks in my name, I will require it of him. 

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my 
mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your 

That the words themselves are inspired may be seen also from the 
manner in which Jesus Christ used the Bible. Consider, for example, the 

Lord's reply to the Sadducees who denied the resurrection of the body. How 
does he refute them? By one sole word from an historical passage; by a 
single verb in the present tense, instead of the same verb in the past 
tense. "You are mistaken," he said, "not knowing the Scriptures.... Have you 
not read what was spoken to you by God saying, 'I am the God of 
Abraham'!" God on Mt. Sinai, four hundred years after the death of 
Abraham, said to Moses, not "I was," but, "I am the God of Abraham." 
There is a resurrection, then, for God is not the God of a few handfuls of 
dust, the God of the dead: He is the God of the living. Those men therefore 
are still alive, and Christ has based the argument on a single word. 

A few verses later, the Lord asked the Pharisees about the divine nature 
of the expected Messiah. Here likewise, to prove his point, he insists on the 
use of a single word in Psalm 110. If the Messiah be the son of David, said 
Christ, "how then does David in the Spirit call him 'Lord'?" Here Christ 
emphasizes the fact that David used this word through the guidance of the 
Holy Spirit. 

There is space for only one more reference to show that Christ asserted 
the divine authority of the words of the prophets, and his own words too. It 
is the statement of our Lord himself: "If you believed Moses, you would 
believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, 
how will you believe my words?" (John 5:46-47). 

The effect of Gaussen's quotations and arguments is cumulative. Page 
follows page. Even to one who thinks he knows the Bible fairly well, it is a 
surprise to see how frequently and how emphatically the Bible speaks of 
itself. One ought to read all of Gaussen's references and to note carefully 
the significance of each. Only so can one see how pervasive the doctrine of 
inspiration is. 

The last reference also takes us one step further into this elementary 
material. Someone in ignorance might object that even though God gave the 
prophets his words and made them speak, the speaking has ceased these 
thousands of years, and we have only reports of the speeches. The claim is 
thus made that the Bible is not a revelation so much as it is the record of 
a revelation. This question, concerning the relation of the spoken word to 
the written word, was answered by Christ implicitly in the previous 
references, but explicitly in this last one. Note carefully, our Lord says that 
Moses "wrote about me [and] if you do not believe his writings, how will 
you believe my words?" 

When the words that God gave his prophets are written, they become 
The Writings, i.e., the Scriptures. It is the Scriptures, the Writings, that 
Jesus tells us to search for eternal life. In his temptation, Jesus repels 
Satan by saying "It is written." Also in John 6:45, 8:17, 12:14, 15:25, the 
phrase "It is written" settles the points at issue. 

Permit a final reference to one more exceptionally important passage. In 
John 10:34-35 Jesus is defending his claim to Deity. He quotes Psalm 82. 
Does he quote this Psalm because Psalm 82 is more inspired and more 
authoritative than any other passage in the Old Testament? Not at all. He 
says, "Is it not written in your law?.... and the Scripture cannot be broken." 
Christ here has appealed to Psalm 82 because it is a part of the Scripture; 
and since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, this passage is also 
inspired, for the Scripture cannot be broken. 

Let it be repeated that the effect of this evidence is cumulative. One 
should have in mind the hundreds of instances in which the Bible claims 
plenary and verbal inspiration. This doctrine of inspiration is not something 
tenuously deduced from two or three isolated verses. On the contrary, it is 
the explicit, the repeated, the constant, the emphatic declaration of the 
Bible in all its parts. 

Now, to conclude this survey of elementary detail, a pointed question 
must be put. If the prophets who spoke, if the authors who wrote, and if 
our Lord himself are mistaken about verbal inspiration - if they are 
mistaken these hundreds of times - what assurance may anyone have with 
respect to the other things they said and wrote? Is there any reason to 
suppose that men who were so uniformly deceived as to the source of their 
message could have had any superior insight and accurate knowledge of 
man's relation to God? Still more pointedly: Can anyone profess a personal 
attachment to Jesus Christ and consistently contradict his assertion that 
the Scriptures cannot be broken? 

The Dictation Objection 

Since this elementary and abbreviated account of verbal inspiration has 
been based on a volume of a century ago, the next step, before bringing 
matters completely up-to-date, will be the examination of a century-old 

The idea that God gave his words to the prophets seems to many liberals 
a mechanical and artificial theory of revelation. God, they tell us, is not to 

be pictured as a boss dictating words to his stenographer. And further, the 
writings of the prophets show clearly the freedom and spontaneity of 
personal individuality. Jeremiah's style is not that of Isaiah, nor does John 
write like Paul. The words are obviously the words of John and Jeremiah, 
not of a boss dictating to several stenographers. The stenographers of one 
boss will turn out letters of the same literary style; they do not correct his 
English. Now, therefore, if God dictated the words of the Bible, the personal 
differences could not be accounted for; from which it follows that the 
doctrine of verbal inspiration is untrue. 

In answer to this objection, it is useful to note that the liberals rather 
uniformly misrepresent the doctrines they attack. This is true, not only of 
the doctrine of the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible, but of many 
other doctrines as well. Psychologically, it is not surprising that some 
misunderstanding should occur. It is difficult to state accurately a position 
with which one strongly disagrees. Yet, when the misunderstanding has 
been publicly pointed out and still no correction is made, it begins to seem 
that misunderstanding has changed into misrepresentation. Accordingly, the 
first and indispensable step in making a reply is to show clearly what does 
and what does not belong to the doctrine of the verbal inspiration. This has 
been done often enough before, but to leave the opponents with still less 
excuse, it will be repeated again here. 

Now let us keep certain facts clearly in mind. In the first place, the 
differences in style - and they are so obvious that even a translation 
cannot obscure them - show decisively that the Bible was not dictated as a 
boss dictates to his stenographer. There have indeed been several 
theologians who have used the term dictation, and a very small number 
seem to have regarded the process as similar to modern office procedure. 
But others did not. Calvin, for instance, several times speaks of dictation, 
but his commentaries show that he was clearly aware of differences in 
literary style. Obviously he meant dictation in the more general sense of a 
command and an authoritative imposition. What is chiefly to the point is 
that the great majority of theologians who hold and have held to verbal 
inspiration never accepted the mechanical dictation theory as described by 
modernists. B. B. Warfield, in The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 
writes, "It ought to be unnecessary to protest again against the habit of 
representing the advocates of verbal inspiration as teaching that the mode 
of inspiration was by dictation." [2] And later he wrote, 

It is by no means to be imagined that it is meant to proclaim a 
mechanical theory of inspiration. The Reformed Churches have never 
held such a theory; though dishonest, careless, ignorant or over-eager 
controverters of its doctrine have often brought the charge. Even those 
special theologians in whose teeth such an accusation has been 
oftenest thrown (e.g., Gaussen) are explicit in teaching that the human 
element is never absent.[3] 

On a number of occasions and on a number of topics, it has been my 
experience that liberal theologians misunderstand, misrepresent, and even 
misquote the orthodox authors. Now, an occasional mistake should be 
overlooked; even a number of unrelated mistakes cannot be judged too 
harshly; but when the doctrine of verbal inspiration is so constantly 
misrepresented, one is tempted to suppose that the unbelievers found it 
easier to ridicule dictation than to understand and discuss verbal inspiration 
as it is actually taught by Reformed theologians. 

How then are the differences of style to be accounted for, and what does 
verbal inspiration mean? The answer to these questions, involving the 
relation between God and the prophets, takes us quickly away from the 
picture of a boss and a stenographer. 

When God wished to make a revelation, at the time of the exodus or of 
the captivity, he did not suddenly look around as if caught unprepared and 
wonder what man he could use for the purpose. We cannot suppose that he 
advertised for help, and when Moses and Jeremiah applied, God constrained 
them to speak his words. And yet this derogatory view underlies the 
objection to verbal inspiration. The relation between God and the prophets is 
totally unlike that between a boss and a stenographer. 

If we consider the omnipotence and wisdom of God, a very different 
representation emerges. The boss must take what he can get; he depends 
on the highschool or business college to have taught the stenographer 
shorthand and typing. But God does not depend on any external agency. God 
is the creator. He made Moses. And when God wanted Moses to speak for 
him, he said, "Who has made man's mouth?... Have not I, the Lord?" 
Therefore verbal inspiration, like every other particular doctrine, must be 
understood in connection with the complete system of Christian doctrine. It 
may not be detached therefrom, and a fortiori it may not be framed in an 
alien view of God. In particular, verbal inspiration can be more clearly 

understood - and can only be properly understood - in its relation to the 
Presbyterian, the Reformed, the Calvinistic doctrines of the divine decree, 
providence, and predestination. When the liberals surreptitiously deny 
predestination in picturing God as dictating to stenographers, they so 
misrepresent verbal inspiration that their objections do not apply to the 
Calvinistic viewpoint. The trouble is not, as the liberals think, that the boss 
controls the stenographer too completely; on the contrary, the analogy 
misses the mark because the boss hardly controls the stenographer at all. 

Put it this way: God from all eternity decreed to lead the Jews out of 
slavery by the hand of Moses. To this end he so controlled history that 
Moses was born at a given date, placed in the water to save him from an 
early death, found and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, given the best 
education possible, driven into the wilderness to learn patience, and in every 
event and circumstance so prepared that when the time came, Moses' 
mentality and literary style were the instruments precisely fitted to speak 
God's words. 

It is quite otherwise with dictation. A boss has little control over a 
stenographer except as to the words she types for him. He did not control 
her education. He cannot trust her literary style. She may be totally 
uninterested in his business. They may have extremely little in common. 
But between Moses and God there was an inner union, an identity of 
purpose, a cooperation of will such that the words Moses wrote were God's 
own words and Moses' own words at the same time. 

Thus, when we recognize that God does his will in the army of Heaven 
and among the inhabitants of the Earth, when we understand that God 
works all things after the counsel of his own will, when we see God's 
pervading presence and providence in history and in the life of his servants, 
then we can realize that business office dictation does not do justice to the 
Scriptures. The Holy Spirit dwelt within these men and taught them what to 
write. God determined what the personality and style of each author was to 
be, and he determined it for the purpose of expressing his message, his 
words. The words of Scripture, therefore, are the very words of God. 

Contemporary Theories 

This brief and hasty survey of earlier discussions is intended merely as 
historical background for an examination of the contemporary state of 
affairs. Things have changed, and changed considerably. With the decline of 

Ritschlian Liberalism and the rise of Existentialism, Neo-orthodoxy, and 
Logical Positivism, the opponents of verbal inspiration have shifted their 
attack. It is no longer whether the words of the Bible are the words of God 
or merely the words of fallible men. Today a more sweeping objection is 
made on the basis of a general theory of language. Philosophers have 
become interested in semantics; and some of their views would so alter 
the significance of words that with all the verbal inspiration imaginable, the 
Bible would be emptied of its Christian meaning. The philosophy of language 
as developed by scholars who are not particularly interested in any religion 
is not specifically directed against the inspiration of the Bible; but, since a 
general theory of language includes religious language and affects the total 
philosophy of religion, it sweeps inspiration along with all the rest. The 
most prominent, though not the most profound, result of this influence is 
the idea that all religious language is metaphorical or symbolic. No religious 
statement should ever be understood literally. In the following pages, a few 
examples of this theme will be given, accompanied by an admixture of 
criticism; and then the discussion will turn to the more profound 
implications of the general theory of language. 

Religious Language 

As a first example, and particularly to show the present popularity of 
these ideas, two articles may be selected from the same issue of The 
Christian Scholar, published by the Commission on Christian Higher 
Education of the National Council of Churches. In the issue of September 
1955, Geddes MacGregor has an article titled "The Nature of Religious 
Utterance," and John A. Hutchinson writes on "The Religious Use of 
Language." Their common point of view rather than any minor differences 
they may manifest is what concerns the present argument. 

MacGregor opens with Benedetto Croce's assertion that "all language is 
metaphorical, or none is"; and soon follows with Wilbur Marshall Urban's 
rejection of literalism and his conclusion as to "the inevitably metaphorical 
and symbolic character of all language." MacGregor does not wish to be 
held to the position of Croce and Urban altogether, but he seems to accept 
the thesis that all religious language is metaphorical or symbolic. If this be 
so, religious utterances must be evaluated in a very different manner from 
the usual analysis of logical propositions. 

In support of his position MacGregor gives some examples, and it will be 

our duty to determine whether or not these admitted cases require his 
conclusions. First, he refers to a college choir whose Jewish, Unitarian, and 
Quaker members, majoring in political science or anthropology, were singing 
a medieval hymn. Few if any of them understood the concepts of the hymn, 
and yet their words communicated the concepts to those persons in the 
audience who had the proper understanding. Similarly, a child does not 
understand marriage when he reads the last sentence of a fairy tale. 

These examples, especially the second, are supposed to militate against 
a literal understanding of language because not even all adults have the 
same understanding of marriage. This word has "levels" of meaning; some 
words have many levels, others fewer. But if all words have several levels, 
there can be no literal meaning. 

However, it does not seem that MacGregor's examples prove what he 
intended. Obviously, a child knows little about marriage, and no adult knows 
all. It is also true that many adults know only a few of the theorems that 
may be truly asserted of a triangle. But the ignorance of these theorems 
does not entail an ignorance of the definition of triangle nor of some of the 
simpler theorems. The same is true of marriage. Such an example 
therefore does not prove that there is no literal meaning whatever to these 

Another illustration that MacGregor gives is that of a very ordinary 
preacher preaching a very ordinary sermon. Yet this dull sermon or a 
sentence of it becomes a vital message to someone in the congregation, 
and his life is changed. Once again the words conveyed more meaning than 
the speaker intended, and hence, argues MacGregor, the meaning could not 
be literal. But why not? Could not the literal meaning of a sentence or two 
recall themes that had lain dormant in the hearer's mind? Could not even 
the literal meaning point out a new way of life? How can such an instance 
be made to show that all religious language is metaphorical or symbolic? 

Finally, the author asserts that the theological proposition "God is 
omniscient" is never as satisfactory as the liturgical statement, "0 my 
God, thou knowest all things." For MacGregor, religious utterance "is always 
in the second person singular." 

Now, it seems to me, this last notion is obviously false. There are 
libraries full of religious books written in the third person. Systematic 
theologies, church histories, books on pastoral methods are all written in 
the third person, and they are religious books. Incidentally, the Bible is 

largely in the third person: "Who himself bore our sins in his own body on 
the tree." Of course, the third-person sentence and the second-person 
sentence that MacGregor happened to choose are not precisely equivalent. 
But the difference does not stem from the person of the verb. If the author 
had written the first sentence as "My God is omniscient," he would have 
had a third-person sentence which is the exact equivalent of the second- 
person phrase. It may not be a "satisfactory" mode of address, for it is not 
a mode of address at all; but this is not to say that it is not satisfactory 
for a creedal statement. Whatever may be the difference between second 
and third-person verbs, it is not at all clear why second-person verbs must 
be metaphorical rather than literal. If, therefore, one wishes to maintain 
that all religious language is metaphorical, it would be better to appeal to a 
general theory of language than to such examples as these. 

The Hutchinson article in the same periodical develops the theory 
somewhat more clearly and more profoundly. The thesis is that "religion in 
all its range and variety consists of symbols." This would mean that 
Christ's death on the cross, Paul's activity in writing the Epistle to the 
Romans, and my reading Romans are nothing but symbols. Where 
MacGregor had hesitated, Hutchinson says expressly that "all language is 
metaphorical.... Every common noun is a kind of dead metaphor. But 
religious terms or words are metaphorical in a further and distinctive 
sense." To support his view, Hutchinson sketches a religious epistemology 
which is based on images - a sort of mental idolatry - and which is 
assimilated to art and mythology. God always (note the always) speaks to 
man through images, and "religious experience is a process of being hit by 
such images." 

This type of epistemology will be alluded to later on; but here I only wish 
to say that while Hutchinson may be describing his own religious 
experience, he is not describing mine. His sweeping generalization is simply 
not true to fact 141 

One objection, however, Hutchinson feels obliged to answer. If myth is 
unavoidable in religion, some explanation is required as to the choice of 
myths. One person chooses Greek mythology; another Christian mythology. 
Doubtless such choices are often made unreflectively, but Hutchinson thinks 
that it is possible to make a rational choice of myths. The basis of such a 
choice is the adequacy of the myth to explain the facts of existence as we 
confront them in daily life and action. 

It seems, however, that neither this nor any other attempt to justify a 
choice among myths can be successful. If myths were literal truths, one 
might be more adequate than another. The Greek myth of Zeus' method of 
producing rain might be considered more adequate or less adequate than 
the myth about the windows of Heaven, attributed to the Hebrews. But if 
these stories are both mythological and symbolic, simply symbolic of the 
literal fact that it rains, it is hard to judge what adequacy requires. A literal 
statement from Aristophanes' Clouds might explain, but a myth explains 

Furthermore, if all language is symbolic, the myth could not be a symbol 
of any literal truth; it would have to be a myth about a myth. For example, 
what could the cross be a symbol of? The cross, as it appears in printers' 
ink or sculpture, is no doubt the symbol of Christ's crucifixion; but can the 
crucifixion itself be a symbol or metaphor of anything? The prima facie 
meaning of statements about the crucifixion is literal. And if someone says 
that religious language cannot be literal, there appears to be no rational 
method of determining what the crucifixion is symbolic of. Is it 
pessimistically symbolic of an inherently unjust universe, or is it symbolic 
of the love of God? On what grounds could one decide, if nothing in the 
account can be taken literally? 

But suppose now that someone decides without rational grounds. Suppose 
that the crucifixion, although it never occurred literally, were said to be 
symbolic of God's love. Then we must ask, is it a literal truth that God 
loves men, or is this symbolic, too? Obviously this must be symbolic too, if 
all language is symbolic. And what is God's love symbolic of? No doubt it is 
symbolic of another symbol, which is itself symbolic of another. How could 
such a regress be of any value unless sometime, and the sooner the better, 
we come upon a symbol that symbolizes a non-symbolic meaning? 

So long as the discussion concerns rain and the windows of Heaven, it 
might appear that nothing important is involved. But when the crucifixion is 
swept in - and when terms such as ransom, justification, propitiation, 
expiation, and reconciliation are treated as metaphors and figures of speech 
[5] - the illusion of superficiality is dissolved. For from this sort of view it 
may be and has been concluded that divine revelation cannot be a 
communication of truth. 

Doubtless the Christian reader is chiefly interested in a truthful revelation 
and in the literal meaning of Biblical statements. Yet it would be a mistake 

to suppose that educated Christians should not concern themselves with 
the several secular theories from which the religious implications derive. 
The preceding section on symbolism was given in connection with 
somewhat superficial articles in a periodical. These popular accounts are 
the mode in which more technical theories trickle down to the general 
populace. Therefore, a more thoroughgoing examination of semantics or 
linguistics must be undertaken. This is all the more proper because most of 
the religious writers who make so much of myth and symbolism are 
conscious of their dependence on the more general theories of language. 
They may not be conscious of a still more general, a still more profound, 
and much more radical theory of language. This new logic as it appears in 
Logical Positivism and the philosophy of Analysis will be taken into account 
at the end of this chapter. First, however, the discussion will continue with 


To begin with, it may be well to indicate roughly the nature of the 
subject by asking some of the questions that need to be answered: What is 
a word? How can sound be meaningful? Does thought exist before and apart 
from language? How did language originate? Is language adequate for a 
knowledge of reality, or is its nature such that it automatically distorts the 
universe? Is all language symbolic and metaphorical, or are some sentences 
strictly literal? These and similar questions give a preliminary idea of the 

Let us choose as the starting point one phase of the origin of language. 
The Bible makes a brief mention of the diversification of tongues, but the 
origin of the previous single language is passed over in silence. Similarly, 
outside the Bible, no historical information is available on the first 
occurrence of speech. For this reason theories of the origin of language are 
speculative conclusions based on more general philosophic principles. 

Naturalism and Behaviorism 

A theory common today holds that words originate in sense experience. 
All words are supposed to have had originally a physical reference. Words 
denoting relations are said to be primarily spatial. If a word is said to stand 
for an object, the relation "standing for" is derived from positions in space; 
similarly, a thought is in my mind as a chair is in a room; and what is 

worse, for logic, the inclusion of one class in another, e.g., all mammals are 
vertebrates, is also a spatial relationship. 

If all words are primarily physical or sensuous, and if relations are 
basically spatial, either language cannot properly apply to spiritual and non- 
spatial subjects, or one must explain how the physical meaning can be 
changed into a spiritual meaning. How can sensory experience give rise to 
words for soul and God? Attempts have indeed been made to explain this 
extension of language, and these attempts should not be prejudiced without 
examination. At the same time, the physical origin of language is today 
frequently put in a form that makes this extension extremely difficult and 
in fact impossible. 

Evolutionary theory is committed to tracing human language back to the 
cries and grunts of animals. Then by slow, gradual, and unspecified 
changes, these animal sounds eventually, after many centuries, become the 
words of human language. Inasmuch as the individual steps in this process 
have never been enumerated, it is hard to test the theory. It is all the 
harder since in the first place the exact status of animal sounds is not too 
clear. Parent birds give warning cries to their fledglings, and this can be 
construed as an example of the indicative function of language. But the cry 
probably does not indicate whether the danger is a hawk or a human being. 
Perhaps it may be said that the cry means, Danger! or Look out!, and thus 
some plausibility may be gained for the theory by assimilating the cry to a 
word-sentence. But whatever the indicative function of such a cry may be, 
it must be one that is extremely vague. Nothing descriptive of the object is 
said. Note too the important fact that animal sounds are instinctive; they 
remain the same in all countries where the species is found; they also 
remain unchanged from generation to generation; whereas the words of 
language do not. 

If, nonetheless, it is possible to find some connection between animal 
sounds and human speech, the theory under consideration has taken a form 
in which instead of animal sounds developing into meaningful speech, 
speech is reduced to the level of animals. Or, it may even be said, human 
language is reduced below the level of cries and grunts, if these are 
supposed to bear some conscious meaning. That is to say, evolutionary 
behaviorism not only makes language physical and sensory in its origin, but 
maintains it on the same level. 

Leonard Bloomfield (International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, I, 1, 

227) speaks of responding to sounds "in a kind of trigger effect." Four 
pages later he says, "The scientific description of the universe... requires 
none of the mentalistic terms because the gaps which these terms are 
intended to bridge exist only so long as language is left out of account." He 
then offers the choice of behaviorism, mechanism, operationalism, or 
physicalism. In the continuation he further asserts, "Language bridges the 
gap between the individual nervous systems" (233); and "Thinking is inner 
speech" (235). Here, of course, "inner" is spatial. 

To avoid all mentalistic terms, naturalism equates the meaning of a word 
with the response of the organism; and the response is a physico-chemical 
reaction caused by the total environment. Not only the word but its 
meaning is a physical effect and in turn a physical cause. The word is not a 
sign of a concept, nor is the meaning a mental picture that resembles the 
object. Neither word nor meaning represents anything. The whole situation 
is exhausted in a chain of physico-chemical causes and effects in which a 
nervous system is one link. In animal behavior, when a robin sees a worm, 
the "sign" of the worm is a physical modification of the robin produced by 
light rays reflected by the worm. 

Here one may wonder if the robin has a sign any more than the 
supermarket's electric eye has when we approach it. And if this is the 
case, could not an early form of language be found in the electric eye - 
particularly if the door squeaked a bit? The behaviorist would doubtless 
agree, but others have an uncomfortable feeling that there is a difference 
between physical causation and the interpretation of signs. It is a 
difference that cannot be expressed in the physical categories of space and 
motion. A mind is needed. Beyond any motion there must be intellection. In 
language the words or signs can occur, perhaps not apart from all 
causation, but they operate in defiance of the regularities of physical 
causation. What is the cause which causes us to use the word worm? We 
may say worm when we see one, and in this case it might be claimed that 
the light rays reflected from the worm produce the sound just as they 
make the robin chirp. But it is not light rays that produce the same sound 
when we choose the word worm for purposes of linguistic discussion. We 
call worm a noun and remark that it can be the subject of a verb. Are 
these remarks nothing but physical motions? Is the sound worm the 
chemical effect equally of light rays and of a linguistic discussion? Is the 
sound noun nothing but a physical effect of previous physics? Here the 

behaviorist explanation can be accepted only on blind faith. No, not even on 
blind faith, for faith is a mental istic term. It must be accepted on blind 
physics. It happens, however, that my physics causes me to make other 
sounds, such as the sounds mind and intellect. In particular the chemistry 
of my body produces the sounds. The chemistry and physics of my larynx 
are as good as the chemistry and physics of yours. 

It is not the present purpose, however, to continue with a general 
refutation of behaviorism or even to itemize all the objections to its theory 
of language. At the moment the important point is that this theory of 
language is not arrived at by an empirical study of language. No one has 
ever seen "language bridging the gap between two nervous systems." No 
one has ever isolated the causes which produce the word worm instead of 
the word noun. In this respect behaviorism does not satisfy its criterion of 
empirical verifiability. Instead of being based on a study of words, the 
behavioristic theory of language is an implication from the general position 
of naturalism. Though naturalism is worthy of discussion, the present 
chapter will continue to be restricted as much as possible to questions of 

Eventually, of course, any theory of language will be based on some more 
general worldview. References to and partial confirmation by linguistic 
phenomena must be appealed to, but it seems improbable - indeed I wish 
to insist that it is impossible - for a purely phenomenological argument to 
place a theory of language beyond all doubt. However, some writers on 
language and many of the theologians who discuss myth and symbols have 
little to say about the more fundamental problems. What they say often 
indicates clearly that they reject behaviorism. Sometimes they suggest an 
alternative philosophy. Therefore, the next step in the argument must be a 
few paragraphs on the symbolic theory of language as detached from any 
behavioristic presuppositions. 

The Symbolic Theory 

One of the best and certainly one of the fullest accounts of the 
philosophy of language is Wilbur Marshall Urban's Language and Reality. The 
great length of his volume and the later modifications of views given 
summarily on earlier pages make it impossible to do full justice to the 
author's precise position. The quotations must be taken as they are, apart 
from the complete context, simply as fairly faithful expressions of a 

widely-held theory. Then, too, since the original motivation of this chapter 
is the literal interpretation of Scripture, the details selected for 
consideration will have to do with the literal use of language. Unlike some 
of the writers already quoted, who hesitate to say that all language is 
mythological, Urban definitely holds that language is never to be literally 

There are no strictly literal sentences .[6] 

Now strictly speaking, there is no such thing as literal truth in any 
absolute sense, for there is no such thing as absolute correspondence 
between expression and that which is expressed... and any expression in 
language contains some symbolic element.JT] 

Now, in the first place, it may be remarked, if there are no literal 
sentences at all, the meaning of statements in the Bible is vitiated no more 
than the meaning of statements in Caesar's Gallic Wars. "David was King 
of Israel" and "All Gaul is divided into three parts" are on the same level. 
They may both be called figurative, or symbolical, or metaphorical; but they 
are both historical in exactly the same sense. If all language is symbolic, 
the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is in no more danger than the 
correct interpretation of any other text. 

However, to call all language symbolic seems to empty of all significance 
the commonly recognized distinction between literal and figurative. Can one 
approve a theory of language that denies this distinction? What then was 
the reason for violating common usage? 

Urban said, "there is no such thing as absolute correspondence between 
expression and that which is expressed." Accordingly, in the second place, 
one must ask whether there is absolute correspondence, and whether this 
is required for literal meaning. The notion of correspondence is vague. In 
one sense of the term, a photo corresponds to or looks like its object, but 
no one supposes that a word corresponds to a thing in this way. Language 
is not a picture of reality. The letters c-a-t do not look like the purring 
animal. It is all the more true that words cannot possibly look like spiritual 
realities, if such there be, for these are not visible entities. But in a non- 
photographic sense a mathematical formula may be said to correspond to 
the motion of a freely failing body. Could not this be an absolute 

correspondence? Or, if the term absolute causes hesitation, could not such 
a formula be or be understood as a literal assertion? Further, if the sound 
cat is essentially an arbitrary sign of the animal, what more 
correspondence could be desired? 

In criticizing the view that words are arbitrary or conventional signs of 
ideas and things, Urban several times appeals to an intuitive content in 
words. Primitive words are supposed to imitate, in some way or other, the 
things to which they refer. The word ache, derived from the sound ach, is 
supposed to sound like a pain feels. While some people with lively 
imaginations think that this is plausible, examples taken, not from one's 
mother tongue, but from unknown languages, will remove the plausibility. 
One of Urban's examples is ouatou and ouatou-ou-ou. He first gives the 
meaning in English and then asks if the word does not sound like the thing. 
If it did, that is, if there were an intuitive meaning in the sound, it should 
be fairly easy to guess the meaning of the word before the English 
translation is given. Now, among a million people someone might make a 
lucky guess; but the others would almost surely fail. Did you recognize all 
along that the two words mean stream and ocean? 

On the other hand, if words are conventional signs, there can be absolute 
correspondence - if anyone wishes to call it that - by stipulation. This is 
seen most clearly in the terms that scientists deliberately coin. Volt and 
ohm "correspond" completely to their referents. At any rate, when one says 
that the electric circuit in the house is one of 110 volts, the language is 
utterly literal. Aside from the technical terms of science, this is also true 
of many common sentences. The words dog, chien, and Hund have no 
intuitive content. They are mere signs. Therefore, when one says, "the dog 
is black," one ordinarily expects to be taken literally. In such sentences 
there is no symbolic element. And this is true also of "David wrote the 

It must be admitted that Urban puts his finger on a serious difficulty in 
the view that words are conventional signs. It is that a first convention 
would be unintelligible. Communication would be impossible. The Biblical 
Adam and Eve or the first two evolutionary savages could not have talked 
to one another. Adam would have selected a sound for tree, Sun, or air, and 
Eve would have had no idea what it referred to. 

The difficulty of explaining communication has long been recognized. The 
famous treatise of Augustine was preceded by the keen insight of Gorgias. 

But the implausibility of intuitive content in words, the plausibility that they 
are mere signs, plus the fact that even if some words had an intuitive 
content it would not be of much help in solving the enigma of 
communication, are persuasive reasons for not following Urban. 

There is another phenomenon also, which, though it furnishes no 
explanation of communication, effectively answers the objection to it. Even 
if some primitive words had an intuitive content, the languages of today 
have virtually none. Must not Urban himself admit that ninety-five percent 
of all words are now conventional signs? Remember dog, chien, and Hund. 
But infants learn to speak, and parents communicate with them. Not only 
so, but adults also have learned the little-known languages of remote tribes 
by living with them. These two miracles, the infant and the missionary, will 
be better understood from Augustine's viewpoint than on a naturalistic 
basis. But in any case the "absolute correspondence" of arbitrary signs to 
referents remains, and literal sentences occur. 

The attack on the possibility of literal sentences now continues by the 
alleged discovery of an ambiguity in the term literal. 

The term literal is ambiguous.... This may mean merely the opposite 
of figurative, and the rendering of symbolic sentences into literal 
sentences is equivalent to the expression of the figurative in non- 
figurative fashion. But literal also has another meaning, namely, 
primitive meaning. To interpret a symbolic sentence literally would 
then be to interpret it according to the primary or original meaning of 
the words. If literal be taken in this second sense, then to say that 
expansion of a symbolic sentence is the substitution of a literal 
sentence is wholly false. For the symbolic meaning is precisely not the 
literal meaning. So interpreted the symbolic sentences, Napoleon is a 
wolf... are false.[8] 

This quotation betrays a great confusion, though the last half of it is 
perfectly true. The source and explanation of the confusion may become 
apparent a little later as his argument for the necessity of symbolism is 
further developed; but the point of the confusion is obvious here. The 
quotation does not in fact give two meanings of the term literal. Literal in 
the sense of opposite to figurative does not differ from literal in the sense 
of primitive meaning. Urban has taken for ambiguity in the term literal two 
different procedures of interpreting figurative sentences. The example was, 

"Napoleon was a wolf." The literal, non-figurative, primitive meaning of the 
word wolf is of course a certain type of wild animal. To say that Napoleon 
had four legs and a shaggy coat is of course false. But while the predicate 
of the figurative sentence was not intended to be taken literally, the 
intended meaning can be stated in literal language: Napoleon was a wanton 
killer. And he was a wanton killer in the primitive and non-figurative sense 
of the words. Granted that the interpretation of a figurative sentence 
according to the primary and original meanings of the words results in a 
false or absurd misunderstanding of the intended meaning; yet it does not 
follow that the expansion of a symbolic sentence by the substitution of a 
literal sentence is necessarily false, much less impossible. It is a question 
of which literal words are chosen. It is not a question of ambiguity in the 
term literal. The source and motivation of this confusion ties in the view 

the symbol expresses adequately for our type of consciousness that which 
could not be fully expressed in “literal” sentences.!^] 

It is not true that whatever is expressed symbolically can be better expressed 
literally. For there is no literal expression, but only another kind of symbol. HOI 
The symbolic consciousness, as we have seen, is a unique form of the 
cognitive consciousness. Oil 

Thus to expand the symbol tends to defeat its end as a symbol .[12] 

Another factor contributing to the confusion above is the opinion that 
when the term literal is defined as primary meaning, "a literal sentence is 
one which refers to a sensuously observable entity.... Applying this notion 
of literal. the language of morals and religion... all such language is 
pronounced meaningless."[13] In order therefore to preserve some meaning 
in religious language against the attacks of the Logical Positivists, Urban 
believes that he is forced to his view of symbolism. 

It is cheerfully admitted that Urban wishes to oppose those who would 
deny all meaning to religious expressions. There is also a group that for 
convenience we may call the Anglican group, though not all are Anglicans. 
Antony Flew states that he is not a Christian at all. But most of them 
seem to be Anglicans: E. L. Mascall, Basil Mitchell, Austin Farrer, I. M. 
Crombie, Ian T. Ramsey, and others. These men have collaborated in the 
publication of a series of books that defend religious language from the 
charge of being meaningless, and they follow Urban at least in assigning a 

sensory origin to language, which origin then sets the problem of developing 
language from its sensory referents to its use in spiritual affairs. However, 
one may ask why the idea of primary meaning must be equated with a 
sensuously observable referent. On the principles of a naturalistic 
evolutionary theory, which none of these men ought to accept, the motions 
of magic and incantation may have been the primary sensuous meaning of 
terms like spirit and God. But unless those savages had some prior notion 
of a being to be invoked, unless they had a "mentalistic" idea of something 
different from the ritual itself, it is difficult to understand why they would 
have gone through the motions. Or, conversely, if they went through certain 
motions only because of physical exuberance, it remains a mystery how the 
idea of God could have developed from such athletics. 

If, on the contrary, the idea of God is an innate endowment by the 
Creator, and if the word God is an arbitrary sign of this spiritual referent, 
and if perchance magic incantations are degenerate forms of pure original 
worship, then both the motions and the language are easily explained. It is 
much easier to see how in a degenerate religion a word of original spiritual 
import can have come to be transferred to a physical object, just as idols 
replace God, than it is to understand how words of sensuous reference only 
can come to take on purely spiritual meaning. This alternate view must 
now be considered. 

Theistic Linguistics 

A theory of language, since it is only one part of philosophy, must, as 
was said above, depend on a more general worldview. In the case of the 
behaviorists, this fundamental philosophy is consciously applied. In other 
cases the underlying principles may be but dimly apprehended, and may 
appear only as presuppositions to be discovered between the lines. It is 
even possible that some writers with less perspicuity explicitly deny what 
their theories implicitly assume. At any rate, every theory of language, and 
every other special theory, depends on some set of ultimate principles. Let 
us therefore choose Christian theism as our basis. 

We shall suppose that God Omnipotent has created rational beings, 
beings who are not merely physical but who are essentially spiritual and 
intellectual; beings, therefore, who have the innate ability to think and 
speak. What then will be the implications relative to the problems of 
linguistics that can be drawn from this theistic presupposition? 

For one thing, this view places thought behind language and so 
contributes to the explanation of communication. Previous mention was 
made of Augustine's De Magistro. Christ is the Logos or Reason who 
endows every mind with intellectual light. Christian theologians, even the 
poorer ones, have usually realized that in the moral sphere man is not born 
neutral. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother 
conceived me." Men are not born morally good or morally neutral, but they 
are born depraved. Intellectually, also, men do not come into the world with 
blank minds. Inherited depravity only emphasizes the presence of innate 
moral ideas. Those wicked Gentiles who did not want to retain God in their 
knowledge nonetheless failed to banish him, for they continued to know the 
judgment of God that those who commit such things are worthy of death. 
In addition to moral ideas, Augustine teaches that the presence of Christ 
the Logos endows all men with certain speculative or philosophic ideas as 
well. Communication, therefore, becomes possible because all men have 
these same ideas. The situation is somewhat like that of cryptographers 
who can break any cipher. The symbols are at first unknown; but because 
the ideas expressed are common, the message can be understood. If 
language had no thought behind it, as the behaviorists claim, and if the 
symbols were just a random aggregate of marks, there would be no cipher 
to break. 

It follows next that language cannot be assigned a solely sensory origin 
and a primitively physical reference. Theism, of course, need not deny that 
the names of animals and things refer to spatially perceived physical 
objects; it need not deny that spatial relationships are well represented in 
language; it need not deny or distort any of our common gross experience. 
But it must assert that man's endowment with rationality, his innate ideas 
and a priori categories, his ability to think and speak were given to him by 
God for the essential purpose of receiving a verbal revelation, of 
approaching God in prayer, and of conversing with other men about God and 
spiritual realities. As a hymn says, "Thou didst ears and hands and voices, 
For thy praise design." For this reason a theistic theory of language would 
not labor under the burden of giving a precarious derivation or development 
of spiritual meaning from primitive physical reference. The spiritual 
meaning would be original. A dubious appeal to metaphor, symbolism, or 
analogy to explain this transition would be unnecessary. 

This point requires some extended explanation, for it needs to be shown 

first that this theistic theory of language does not evade the problems by 
denying the usefulness of metaphor and analogy; and second that the 
Anglicans previously mentioned (with others who adopt the same outlook), 
fail to achieve their end of maintaining the meaningful ness of religious 
language; and that therefore in the third place, if their theories must be 
discarded, the view of the last few paragraphs is at least a better 

First of all, it is admitted that religious language contains analogies, 
metaphors, and figures of speech. Christ said, "I am the door." There are 
also the parables which, sometimes obscurely, point to similarities between 
sensory experience and religious principles. The Psalms most of all are 
poetic and pictorial. Thus the existence of metaphor and symbolism cannot 
be denied, nor shall it be argued that such language is in the least 
inappropriate. However, these literary embellishments with their aesthetic 
appeal and psychological impact are not to be construed as essentially 
different from figures of speech in books of history or even fiction. To do 
so is to create a pseudo-problem. Religious language is not essentially 
different from language on other subjects of interest. The position here 
maintained is not that religious language cannot utilize metaphor, but that 
the meaning of these metaphors, when one knows enough theology, can be 
stated less ambiguously in strictly literal sentences. 

Some writers, as we have seen, deny this. E. L. Mascall, who makes 
admirable criticisms of Logical Positivism, and who aims to defend the 
meaningfulness of religious language, makes his task impossible by 
accepting the admission of some Christian theologians that "there was 
something very peculiar about theological assertions which sharply 
differentiated them from the assertions of ordinary conversation.... 
unintelligible to the complete outsider. T 141 He also quotes Farrer with 
approbation that "it is not necessary for us to get behind them [images] to 
a non-metaphorical understanding of facts. The images themselves 
illuminate us." And, "the metaphysician cannot point away from his 
analogically expressed thought about the natural mysteries to some non- 
analogical thought about them, which means all that the analogical thoughts 
mean. He has not got any such non-analogical thouqht/ T 15] 

This is the theme I wish particularly to repudiate. The idea of a special 
and peculiar theological language essentially different from language used in 
other subjects is, I believe, completely untenable. Of course, physics uses 

technical terms such as proton and velocity; and in this sense we can 
speak of the language of physics, just as the language of baseball talks 
about curves, fouls, and umpires-who-should-be-killed. But these two 
"languages" are simply parts of one language - English - and the same 
rules of meaning apply in physics, baseball, and in "theological language" as 

Theology versus Language 

Sometimes the allegation that religious language can never be literal and 
must always be analogical is based on particular points of doctrine 
improperly understood. For example, I. M. Crombie£16] considers creation 
analogous to manufacture, but only analogous, not identical. In the case of 
ordinary facts, like the manufacture of a chair or table, we know their 
meaning when we understand a situation in which the facts would not be 
true. But the theist, asserts Crombie, claims that there is no situation 
which falls outside of divine creation. Therefore, the meaning of creation is 
in doubt. We could never grasp the significance of statements about 
creation unless the rules of theological language differ essentially from 
those of ordinary language. 

Here one might wonder what Crombie would have said if he had noted 
that no chair or table falls outside the category of manufacture. At any rate 
the theist can describe a situation, which of course he believes to be false, 
in which creation would not be true. If physical reality had existed from 
eternity, if the history of the world were not finite in time, then creation 
would never have occurred. In order for an assertion to be meaningful, it is 
not necessary that there exist situations in which it is true and other 
situations in which it is false. Such a criterion of meaning would prevent 
the assertion that water dropped into sulphuric acid produces a rise in 
temperature. Nor on such a theory could two and two always equal four. 
Meaningful ness does not depend on a statement's sometimes being false, 
nor does falsity imply that a statement is meaningless. What is 
meaningless can be neither true nor false. 

Not only is Crombie's criterion of meaning doubtful, his notion of creation 
also appears to be ambiguous. "The theist," he says, "does not pretend to 
know how the world began; he only claims to know that, however it began, 
God created it" (45). Crombie's statement here does not do justice to the 
theist. Although the particular point to be criticized in this statement may 

seem relatively unimportant - in fact some will think that the criticism 
splits hairs - nevertheless the statement illustrates a tendency to confuse 
a question of theology with a question of language. In ordinary language the 
word how always refers to a process: How does one drive a car? How does 
one carve a turkey? How does one solve an equation? The answers to these 
questions all specify several steps in a process. Therefore, it is inaccurate 
to say that "the theist does not pretend to know how the world began." The 
theist pretends to know that there was no how. Creation excludes process. 
Crombie's difficulty therefore does not lie in the usage of language, but in 
the theological content. 

An even less convincing example of language difficulty is given by Flew 
and MacKinnon.£17] Their article argues that the first chapter of Genesis 
cannot be literal because the word day obviously does not mean twenty- 
four hours. But why should anyone suppose that the literal meaning of day 
is twenty-four hours? The word day more frequently refers to a period of 
twelve hours, more or less, distinguished from night. The one is as literal 
as the other. And even if the authors insist that day in the sense of a 
period of time, e.g., in my grandfather's day, is figurative, it is far from 
proving that such language cannot be expressed literally. These authors 
therefore are not convincing when a few pages later they insist, "I say 
imaginative deliberately; for writing in the New Testament is poetry rather 
than prose" (175). Now, perhaps the word day is figurative in Genesis, but 
can anyone read Paul's epistle to the Romans and deny that it is prose? 
Such desperate expedients do not commend the theory. 

Sometimes, however, the allegation that religious knowledge can never be 
literal, instead of being based on fairly evident misunderstandings, is 
founded on very difficult points of doctrine, points which constitute serious 
enigmas for a Christian theologian. 

In the last book mentioned, Flew has a chapter on "Divine Omnipotence 
and Human Freedom." In the main it is a very well written attempt to show 
that the assertion of free will cannot solve the problem of evil, and as he 
goes through his argument he well enough lays bare the difficulties of the 
problem. There is, however, little connection with any theory of language. 
The whole is strictly theological. And if studied from the standpoint of 
theological content, its deficiencies are quickly seen. For, although the 
chapter contains some fine analysis of free will, so far as other views on 
the problem of evil are concerned, it contents itself with a mere expression 

of distaste. For example, "All that we have to say in this paper is, of 
course, entirely beside the point for anyone who adopts any variant of the 
position that infinite creative Power is its own sufficient justification" (156). 
Such a solution Flew merely calls "uncomfortable." Or, at most he says, 
"All the bitter words which have ever been written against the wickedness 
of the God of predestinationism - especially when he is also thought of as 
filling hell with all but the elect - are amply justified" (163). This is not 
argument; this is merely abuse; and it is unworthy of a scholar who wishes 
to look at things logically. Admittedly, the existence of evil poses a major 
difficulty for the Christian. And for this reason the last chapter of the 
present book will argue through it in detail. Here the only point to be noted 
is that a solution is not to be sought in rules of language but in the 
concepts of theology. 

The same is true of another matter. Again in the same volume by Flew 
and MacIntyre, Bernard Williams gives an interesting defense of Tertullian's 
famous paradox: It is certain because it is impossible. Williams argues that 
religious language must include at least one sentence about both God and 
the world. It may be that God punishes men or that God became flesh; but 
there could hardly be any religion unless God is related to the world at least 
in one aspect. Unfortunately, however, God is eternal and the world is 
temporal; "so when we come to a statement that is about both God and 
temporal events, it must be unsatisfactory; for if it were not, we should 
have adequately described the relation of temporal events to God in terms 
appropriate only to the temporal events" (203). Then Williams makes an 
excellent point. If a religious person replies to this argument that religious 
statements must be accepted by faith and not by reason, Williams shows 
clearly that the reply is irrelevant: 

If you do not know what it is that you are believing on faith, how 
can you be sure that you are believing anything?... To say that it is to 
be believed on faith and not by reason does not face the difficulty, for 
the question was not how it should be believed, but what was to be 

The authors under discussion do not seem to take this point seriously 
enough. Unless religious language is meaningful, literally true, and 
thoroughly intelligible, it is meaningless and unintelligible, sound and fury 
signifying nothing. Williams' point stands emphasis. 

But to return to the relation between the immutable God and the 
changing temporal events, perhaps it is Crombie who gets to the bottom of 
the matter. 

We must acknowledge at once that in the ordinary sense we have no 
conception of the divine nature. We do not know God, and it would be 
absurd to claim that we know what kind of a being he is. Insofar as 
we use adjectives about him (omniscient, eternal, and so on) they do 
not enable us to conceive what it is like to be God. Omniscience is not 
infinite erudition, and what it is must be beyond our comprehension. 

Crombie is clearly aware that all this is more than a question of 
language. Obviously it is necessary, if one wishes to defend theology 
against the charge of meaninglessness, to provide an epistemology that will 
permit man to have a knowledge of God. But the quotation just made would 
appear to make a knowledge of God impossible. Even revealed knowledge 
would be impossible, for we are said to have no conception of God or of 
what kind of a being he is. Omniscience is an attribute beyond our 
comprehension, and the adjectives we use have no ordinary sense. Yet the 
author wishes to allow some meaning to theological statements. To this 
end a special kind of language must be used. The assertion "God loves us," 
Crombie explains as a parable: "there is no literal resemblance between the 
truth which is expressed and the story which expresses it"; but there must 
be some "resemblance or analogy between, say, human and divine love." 

Although we believe in the analogy, we do not use the analogy to 
give a sense to "love" in the theological context. We postulate the 
analogy because we believe the image to be a faithful image.... We do 
not understand the relationship in which God stands to the world, but 
we must also claim the right to name it "creatorship" or "sustaining." 
The choice of the name is not arbitrary; although, since we do not 
understand the relation named, its use is in one sense equivocal. [21] 

This is highly unsatisfactory and falls completely within the scope of 
Williams' remark that "if you do not know what it is that you are believing, 
how can you be sure that you are believing anything?" 

Trying to forestall criticism of his theory of parable or analogy, Crombie 
remarks that his conclusions can be denied only if "(1) there can never be 
good grounds for committing a category transgression, and (2) that there 
can be no 'meanings' which do not correspond to clear and distinct 
ideas .1221 

One wonders how the mere statement of the only two conditions on 
which Cromble's theory can be denied is sufficient to dispose of the 
conditions. It seems so reasonable that one should avoid "category- 
transgressions," i.e., logical blunders, that one cannot be satisfied with 
simply brushing the principle out of sight. And while there may be some 
meaning embedded in the language of a man whose ideas are not clear and 
distinct, the meaning would surely prove to be an hallucination if it could be 
shown that the words could not be made to correspond to some clear or 
distinct ideas. Furthermore, how can one construct a parable that relates a 
known object to something of which we have no concept at all? Meaningful 
analogies and honest comparisons can be made only if we know something 
about both terms. Unless a better defense of religious language and thought 
can be devised, the Logical Positivists will not be greatly embarrassed. 

Literal Language 

The theistic theory of language that was outlined a few pages back is 
here offered as a better solution to the whole matter. How it will apply to 
Logical Positivism will be seen a little later, but how it applies to the theory 
of metaphors and parables should already be clear. First of all, it provides 
for a knowledge of God without which speech would be vain sound. The 
Logos is the rational light that lights every man. Since man was created in 
the image of God, he has an innate idea of God. It is not necessary, indeed 
it is not possible, for a blank mind to abstract a concept of God from 
sensory experience or to lift sensory language by its bootstraps to a 
spiritual level. The theories of Empiricism, of Aristotle, of Aquinas, of 
Locke, are to be rejected. 

The positing of innate ideas or a priori equipment does not entail the 
absurdity of infants' discoursing learnedly on God and logic. To all 
appearances their minds are blank, but the blankness is similar to that of a 
paper with a message written in invisible ink. When the heat of experience 
is applied, the message becomes visible. Whatever else be added, the 
important words refer to non-sens uous realities. 

The impossibility of converting sensory language to spiritual use by 

parable and metaphor arises from the necessity of knowing both items of 
comparison before a comparison can be made. The metaphor or the parable 
has meaning only if there is some similarity that can be stated in non- 
metaphorical, literal language. When Crombie says, "we postulate the 
analogy because we believe the image to be a faithful image," he 
contradicts his previous statement: "we do not know God, and it would be 
absurd to claim that we know what kind of a being he is." It seems obvious 
that if we have no knowledge of God there would be no basis for choosing 
the parable "God loves us" rather than the parable "God hates us." 

The theory of metaphor, parable, or symbolism, as it holds that literal 
language is impossible, naturally denies that the truths expressed in 
metaphor can be expressed literally. Sometimes authors try to show that 
poetry and symbolism lose value when attempts are made to state their 
meaning in prose, and this failure in translation is taken as evidence for the 
general theory of symbolism. 

If, on the other hand, religious language can be literal, not only may 
symbolism be translated into ordinary prose, but the symbols must be 
regarded as less adequate - though perhaps more literarily beautiful - 
expressions of the truth than the literal statements are. 

Opposing any such suggestion, Urban, whose great work was quoted 
earlier, writes, 

In Whitehead's words, the symbol is merely a surrogate for 
something else, and what we want is that something - not the 
substitute. In other words, the ideal would be to dispense with 
symbolism or to have wholly non-symbolic truth. This, it seems to me, 
is a fundamentally mistaken notion. In the first place, such an ideal is 
really impossible in view of the very nature of language and expression. 
If there were such a thing as wholly non-symbolic truth, it could not be 

Yet this that Urban considers "a fundamentally mistaken notion" seems 
to others besides Whitehead to be fundamentally correct. Some hints have 
already been given that such an ideal is not really impossible. One further 
example will be given. It will be used as a basis for a reductio ad absurdum 
of Urban's view, and it will be chosen from the Bible to bring the whole 
discussion closer to the question of verbal inspiration than it may have 
seemed to be in the last several paragraphs. Let us take the words of John 

the Baptist, "Behold! The Lamb of God." The Lamb is a symbol. A symbol 
is a sign, but not all signs are symbols. The plus and minus signs of 
arithmetic, even though they may sometimes be called mathematical 
symbols, are just arbitrary conventional signs. Marks of other shapes could 
have served as well. Crombie above, it will be remembered, tried to 
maintain that his words, names, and metaphors were not arbitrary; and in 
this example obviously an elephant as a symbol of Christ could not have 
served as well; and a fish was later used only because of an acrostic. John 
the Baptist's choice of a Lamb was not arbitrary; it was rooted in the 
Mosaic ritual. An arbitrary sign, whether a word or a mathematical figure, 
merely designates the concept. When we are studying mathematics or 
reading a newspaper, we do not normally think of the shape of the signs, 
but rather give exclusive attention to the thing signified. In the case of the 
symbol, however, some of our attention is fixed on the symbol. If the 
Baptist had said, Jesus is Lord, no one would have given thought to the 
sound as such; and there is nothing in the situation except the sound and 
the meaning. But when he said, "Behold! The Lamb," the situation included 
not only Jesus and the sound of the words, but also the lambs that the 
word Lamb summarized. To understand the Baptist's message about Christ, 
therefore, it was necessary to think how literal lambs could symbolize 
Christ. This is not the case with a designatory sign. 

John the Baptist expected his auditors to remember the sacrifices in 
which the worshiping sinner had placed his hands on the head of the lamb, 
killed the lamb, sprinkled the blood round about the altar, and burnt the 
lamb on the altar. Because of these reminiscences, the Baptist's language 
was vivid. He pictured the ritual of the ages. One word summarized an 
entire religious system. 

But is this symbol adequate? Does it express what cannot otherwise be 

Undoubtedly this symbolism was adequate to attract the attention of the 
auditors. In doing so, it functioned more effectively than a literal lengthy 
explanation. Symbolism and the more ordinary figurative expressions have 
their use; and unless they were better adapted to their aim than other 
language, they would cease to be used. 

Yet, if the purpose is insight and understanding, symbolic language must 
be recognized as seriously inadequate. If a missionary should repeat John's 
words to people who had never heard of the Jews, the meaning would not 

be conveyed. Even if one knew that the Jews killed lambs and went through 
certain motions, one could hardly guess what John meant. First of all, literal 
language is necessary to explain the significance of the Jewish sacrifices. 
The death of the lamb represented the penalty of sin previously incurred by 
the now repentant Jew. But though the man had incurred the penalty, the 
penalty was discharged by a substitute, and God was satisfied. 
Furthermore, the visible sacrifice was itself symbolic of a greater sacrifice. 
There was some future event prophesied in which one whose visage was so 
marred more than any man would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, by 
whose stripes we are healed. Then centuries later, John the Baptist 
announced, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the 
world." The lamb is a symbol of the vicarious satisfaction of justice. 

Without such a background of literal meaning, one could hardly guess the 
point of the symbol. One would not know what the symbol symbolized. The 
symbol is merely a surrogate for something else, and what we want is the 
real thing and not the symbol. To be sure, the lamb is not simply an 
arbitrary sign, as the swastika was for the Nazis; but unless some literal 
information was forthcoming, John's symbolic sentence could not have been 
understood. With this information, it can be. And these remarks return us 
to the analysis of John A. Hutchinson's article on "The Religious Use of 
Language," near the beginning of this chapter. The reductio ad absurdum 
then is complete. 

On a theistic worldview therefore, a view which holds that God created 
man and revealed himself to him in words, language is adequate for 
theology. Linguistics, unless controlled by naturalistic, atheistic 
presuppositions, can therefore offer no objection to the doctrine of verbal 
inspiration. The Scriptures contain metaphors, figures of speech, and 
symbolism; for the Scriptures are addressed to men in all situations - 
situations in which their attention needs to be aroused and their memory 
facilitated, as well as situations in which plain information must be 
conveyed. But since symbolic language and metaphor depend on literal 
meaning, the most intelligible and understandable expressions are to be 
found in the literal theological statements, such as those in Romans. And 
outside the Bible the most accurate and satisfactory expressions of 
Christianity are the carefully worded creedal statements of the 
Westminster Confession. 

Logical Positivism 

The majority of the authors so far quoted have been trying to defend 
religious language from the accusation of the Logical Positivists that 
religion and metaphysics are nonsense. These authors recognize that 
Logical Positivism is an enemy of all religion; they wish to escape its 
influence; and they have at times made keen criticisms of it. If their 
alternate theory has failed, it is only because they have not sufficiently 
stressed the literal concepts of non-arbitrary logic without which no theory 
can be maintained and with which Logical Positivism is reduced to ruins. 

Though the Anglican group does not stress logic sufficiently, there are 
others who stress it even less, and who therefore show a greater, even if 
unconscious, affiliation with the Logical Positivists. Emil Brunner is a good 
example. One of his main points is that God "does not communicate 
something to me, but himself." That is to say, revelation is not the 
impartation of truth. "All words have only an instrumental value. Neither the 
spoken words nor their conceptual content are the Word itself." And, "God 
can.. .speak his Word to a man even through false doctrine." f241 Not only 
does Brunner empty revelation of all conceptual content, he also accepts or 
rejects inferences by subjective preferences. Jewett translates Die 
christliche Lehre von Gott: 

The purely rational element of thought in logic has the tendency to 
proceed from any given point in a straight line. Faith, however, 
constantly bridles this straight line development.... Theological thinking 
is a rational movement of thought, the logical consequences of which 
are constantly, at every point, through faith, turned back, curtailed, or 
destroyed.... Only by the constant breaking of systematic unity and 
logical consistency... does thought arise which may be designated as 
believing thought.[25] 

Thus, as Jewett goes on to show, Brunner accepts valid implications 
when it suits his purpose to refute Schleiermacher; but when he finds 
himself unable to refute the predestinationism of Calvin, he decides that 
now he will have his faith bridle logic and will pay no attention to valid 
implications. But if logical consistency can in this way be used in one case 
and discarded in another, what is to prevent one from selecting a few ideas 
from Buddhism, a concept or two from Islam, and a bit of nonsense from 

Christian Science, too? After all, revelation is not a communication of truth, 
and the conceptual content of the words is not the real thing. There is 
therefore no law against contradicting oneself. 

This repudiation of logic indicates that a fitting conclusion to this chapter 
can be provided by a short discussion of the law of contradiction. Now, the 
most vigorous opponents of immutable logic are today the Logical 
Positivists, and to them we shall now turn. 

Logical Positivism, or the philosophy of Analysis as it is sometimes 
called, not only repudiates divine revelation but all non-empirical 
metaphysics as well. In particular it denies any innate or a priori forms of 
the mind, traditionally regarded as necessarily true. Logic and mathematics 
are explained as linguistic conventions that have been arbitrarily selected; 
or if not altogether arbitrarily, they have been selected as useful tools to do 
a job. Past history exemplifies different selections. The logic of A. N. 
Whitehead and Bertrand Russell is one, and the logic of Aristotle is another. 
To quote A. J. Ayer, "It is perfectly conceivable that we should have 
employed different linguistic conventions from those which we actually do 

John Dewey in his Logic objects to the statement of H.W. B. Joseph that 
"it is more in respect of the problems to be answered, than of the logical 
character of the reasoning... that Aristotle's views are antiquated." Dewey 
holds that logical forms arise from subject matter, and when the subject 
matter changes sufficiently, logic changes too. He compares logic with legal 
concepts. The concepts arise out of social conditions and change with 
them. The laws of one age are not those of another. Similarly, we are led 
to believe, the laws of logic are not fixed, but change with changing 
conditions .[ 26 ] 

Positivistic, humanistic, or atheistic as this philosophy is, it apparently 
attracts Bible translators and even teachers in American Bible schools. 
Recently an instructor in one of the well-respected Bible colleges published 
an article in which, along, with what seemed to be a mechanistic theory of 
sensation, he rejected Aristotelian logic as an unwarranted, unnatural 
verbalization and accepted at least some of Dewey's Instrumentalism. This 
sort of thing is seen also, though perhaps in a less conscious form and to 
varying degrees, in the pietistic depreciation of a so-called human logic as 
opposed to some unknowable divine logic. 

In defense of so-called human logic, in defense of the literal meaning of 

words, and therefore in defense of verbal inspiration, I wish to challenge 
the opposing viewpoint to face the argument and answer unambiguously. I 
wish to challenge them to state their own theory without making use of the 
law of contradiction. 

If logical principles are arbitrary, and if it is conceivable to employ 
different linguistic conventions, these writers should be able to invent and 
to abide by some different convention. Now, the Aristotelian logic, and in 
particular the law of contradiction, requires that a given word must not only 
mean something, it must also not mean something. The term dog must 
mean dog, but also it must not mean mountain; and mountain must not 
mean metaphor. Each term must refer to something definite, and at the 
same time there must be some objects to which it does not refer. The 
term metaphorical cannot mean literal, nor can it mean canine or 
mountainous. Suppose the word mountain meant metaphor, and dog, and 
Bible, and the United States. Clearly, if a word meant everything, it would 
mean nothing. If, now, the law of contradiction is an arbitrary convention, 
and if our linguistic theorists choose some other convention, I challenge 
them to write a book in conformity with their principles. As a matter of 
fact it will not be hard for them to do so. Nothing more is necessary than 
to write the word metaphor sixty thousand times: Metaphor metaphor 
metaphor metaphor. 

This means, the dog ran up the mountain, for the word metaphor means 
dog, ran, and mountain. Unfortunately, the sentence "metaphor metaphor 
metaphor" also means, Next Christmas is Thanksgiving, for the word 
metaphor has these meanings as well. 

The point should be clear: One cannot write a book or speak a sentence 
that means anything without using the law of contradiction. Logic is an 
innate necessity, not an arbitrary convention that may be discarded at will. 
Whether it be the atheistic philosophy of A. J. Ayer or the pietistic 
depreciation of our fallible "human logic," such theories make verbal 
inspiration impossible. But, fortunately, these theories make themselves 
impossible as well. They are self-refuting because they cannot be stated 
except by virtue of the law they repudiate. 

I conclude therefore that literal language, innate logic, and verbal 
inspiration have nothing academic to fear from such theories as these. 

[1] See the author's Thales to Dewey, chapter 11. 

[2] B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 173n9. 

[3] B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 421. 

[4] A further discussion of images will be found in my Thales to Dewey, 
The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, 299-301. 

[5] John Mackintosh Shaw, Christian Doctrine, 207. 

[6] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 433. 

[7] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 382-3831 

[8] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 433. 

[9] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 444. 

[10] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 500. 

[11] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 435. 

[12] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 434. 

[13] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 436. 

[14] E. L. Mascall, Words and Images, viii, 12. 

[15] Austin Farrer as quoted by E. L. Mascall, Words and Images, 116-117. 

[16] The Possibility of Theological Statements," chapter two in Faith and 
Logic, edited by Basil Mitchell, 43, 45. 

[17] Creation," Flew and MacKinnon, in New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, Flew and MacIntyre, 170ff. 

[181 Bernard Williams, in Flew and MacIntyre, New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, 209, 211. 

[19] I. M. Crombie, in Flew and MacIntyre, New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, 55. 

[20] I. M. Crombie, in Flew and MacIntyre, New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, 71. 

[21] I. M. Crombie, in Flew and MacIntyre, New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, 72, 81. 

[22] I. M. Crombie, in Flew and MacIntyre, New Essays in Philosophical 
Theology, 61. 

[23] Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality, 445-446. 

[24] Brunner, Divine-Human Encounter, 85, 110, 117. See also the definitive 
monograph Emil Brunner's Concept of Revelation by Paul King Jewett. 

[25] Jewett, Emil Brunner's Concept of Revelation, 104. 

[26] John Dewey, Logic, The Theory of Inquiry, 82, 101, 328. 

Revelation and Morality 

F rom antiquity to the present, questions of morality, of good and evil, of right 
and wrong, of value, of the purpose of human life have been frequently and 
carefully discussed. Plato and Aristotle, Spinoza and Kant, Butler, Bentham, and 
Sidgwick are a few of the better-known authors. And like these philosophers, 
every thinking person must reflect on the principles or maxims that guide his 
conduct. Which of two incompatible lines of action is it right to follow? Which of 
two incompatible principles ought to be acknowledged? If action is to be based on 
principle, how does one justify the principle? These questions, which demanded 
the attention of Plato, are no less demanding today. 

Ethical Disagreement 

If the people of the United States were asked to give examples of moral 
principles, most of the answers would include the sixth, the seventh, and 
the eighth of the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not 
commit adultery, and thou shalt not steal have usually been regarded as 
important moral laws. An orthodox Christian, or for that matter an orthodox 
Jew, can sincerely and consistently inculcate these laws because he 
believes them to be the laws of God. They are right because God has 
commanded them. And they are laws because God imposes penalties for 
their transgression. Thus moral convictions and moral education, based on 
law and right, can be consistently grounded on Biblical revelation. 

On the other hand, contemporary American humanism, like pagan 
antiquity, neither has this ground for morality nor does it unexceptionally 
recognize these laws. Professor Edwin A. Burtt, a humanist himself, in both 
editions of his Types of Religious Philosophy, reports that the more radical 
humanists regard "sex as an essentially harmless pleasure which should be 
regulated only by personal taste and preference." Similarly, with reference 
to the other two commandments, the political radicalism of many 
naturalists in attacking the right of private property has included plans of 
taxation and other economic proposals that a conservative would call 
legalized theft. Nor is it difficult to identify godless governments which 
make use of torture and murder. Thus at least some humanists repudiate, 
not merely the basis of the Ten Commandments, but their content as well. 

No doubt other humanists disapprove of the brutality and murder inherent 
in Marxism. Some may even have a kind word for private property. And 

some of course would not advocate adultery. But the problem that 
naturalism must face is this: Can an empirical philosophy, a philosophy that 
repudiates revelation, an Instrumentalist or descriptive philosophy - can 
such a philosophy provide a justification for any of the Ten 
Commandments? Are not those humanists who still oppose murder and 
theft living on the Christian capital inherited from their Puritan ancestors? 
Or, rather, the more important question is this: Can humanism, having 
rejected revelation, provide a logical ground for any moral laws whatever? 
Can naturalism furnish a rational basis for any of the decisions of life? Or, 
are all choices, like Burtt's choice of sex, merely matters of personal taste 
and unreasoning preference? 

The following argument in answer to these questions is designed to lead 
to the conclusion that a rational life is impossible without being based upon 
a divine revelation. The method of arriving at this conclusion will be to 
analyze the implications of non-revelational ethics. Some detailed 
arguments to this effect I have given elsewhere.]!] Here this material will 
be briefly summarized, and to it some additional analyses will be added. 


According to the principle of Utility as popularly expounded in the 
nineteenth century, the choice between two lines of action should depend 
upon a calculation of the amounts, durations, and intensities of the 
pleasures and pains that each action would produce. That line of action is 
right and to be chosen whose total of pleasure is the greater. Since, 
however, the action of any one person affects others, at least to some 
degree, the calculation must include the pleasures and pains of all the 
persons affected; and it is this total that indicates what ought to be done. 

Nor is this calculation to be restricted to immediate and obvious 
consequences. For example, a man in making his will may bequeath a good 
sum to a charitable institution. But about the time he dies, new directors 
are elected who are inefficient or even corrupt. Their squandering of his 
legacy seems to produce less pleasure for the public than some other 
provision might have done. Therefore, one is tempted to say that the 
bequest, on Utilitarian principles, is immoral. This need not be so. For in 
addition to these consequences, one must also calculate the effect of the 
donor's beneficent example in stimulating philanthropy among other men of 
wealth, and also indeed in strengthening his own character for the 

remainder of his life. These consequences, plus a few others that might be 
imagined, could possibly overbalance a slight degree of corruption so that 
the sum total of pleasure produced would justify the act. 

The consequences, therefore, by which an act is determined to be right 
or wrong include all the consequences and all the people affected. Pains are 
to be balanced off against pleasures. Thus Utilitarianism can in short be 
said to aim at the greatest good of the greatest number, i.e., the greatest 
total of pleasure. 

The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number 

Some surprising implications may be drawn from the principle of the 
greatest good of the greatest number. In 1940 the population of Germany 
was perhaps ninety million, of whom six million were Jews. Hitler 
massacred five million of them. Let us say this caused five million units of 
pain. But as the Germans were largely anti-Semitic, the massacre and the 
seizure of Jewish property gave each German a unit of pleasure. Suppose 
even that the quick death of the gas chamber caused each Jew two units of 
pain. This still results in a surplus of pleasure over pain. Must not 
Utilitarianism conclude therefore that the massacre of the Jews was right? 
At any rate, this is approximately the theory by which the Communists 
have justified their massacres of Ukrainians, Hungarians, and an estimated 
sixteen million Chinese.[2] When one thinks of all the good that 
Communism will do for all future generations, a few million murders are 

The deliberate infliction of pain by massacre may be more shocking to 
the conscience of the free West than lesser injustices are; but whether 
massacre or unjust taxation, is it not the principle that the majority rules? 
In the United States the wealthy are heavily taxed. The poorer majority 
believe they can give themselves more pleasure by inflicting pain on the 
minority. The defense offered is the greatest good of the greatest number. 
But does not this defense apply to massacre with the same force that it 
applies to the graduated income tax? 

All non-Com munistic Utilitarians deprecate murder. They ordinarily try to 
avoid lesser injustices also, though they may argue that the graduated 
income tax is not unjust. But the problem becomes acute when a member 
of the minority decides to oppose the will of the majority. The Latvians, the 
Hungarians, and the Tibetans resisted Communism. That is, they opposed 

the greatest good of the greatest number - just as a former governor of 
Utah resisted the income tax and thereby tried to harm the majority. But it 
is wrong to oppose the greatest good of the greatest number. Therefore, 
the minority should cooperate in inflicting pain on itself so that the greatest 
total of pleasure may be achieved. 

Originally, Utilitarianism took its start from the theory of psychological 
hedonism. Jeremy Bentham assumed as a scientific fact that all men are 
completely dominated by two sovereign masters: pleasure and pain. The 
one is man's sole motive and the other cannot possibly be desired. Whether 
this is a scientific fact or not, it has at least a degree of plausibility. The 
next step in Utilitarianism was to advance from psychological to ethical 
hedonism. The good is pleasure; my good is my pleasure; and it would be 
as immoral as it is foolish to cause myself harm. This also is at least 

But Utilitarianism is not individualistic hedonism. Bentham aimed at the 
sum total of pleasure of the whole human race. Henry Sidgwick after him 
denied that "my good is my pleasure." Only the greatest good of the 
greatest number could qualify as the criterion of a moral action. If a given 
line of action results in harm to me but produces a greater total of 
pleasure to mankind, then it is immoral for me to seek my own good. In 
this case I must seek my own harm. And this is not plausible. Certainly it 
is not plausible that the Latvians, Hungarians, and Tibetans should 
cooperate in their own destruction. Here then is the problem of the conflict 
between the good of an individual and the sum total of pleasure for the 
human race. 

Utilitarians have tried to avoid this conflict in two ways. First, Sidgwick 
assumed, presupposed, or broadly hinted that ultimately the pleasures of all 
people harmonize. The seeming conflict depends on a mistaken calculation. 
In reality my good is compatible and ultimately identical with the good of 
everyone else. No real conflict is possible. The pleasure of inflicting pain on 
anyone always entails future pains that cancel out the pleasure. Therefore, 
whether a person seeks his own greatest pleasure or whether he seeks the 
greatest pleasure of the whole race, he will do precisely the same thing. 
Every action that promotes the one promotes the other also. 

Such a view successfully avoids the justification of massacre, but 
unfortunately it is a view that Utilitarianism cannot logically accept. 
Utilitarianism makes a point of calculation and scientific observation. It 

attempts to be a descriptive theory. But it is not an observed nor an 
observable fact that the pleasures of all people harmonize. One might 
believe it on faith, but not on experience. Even if the Communistic 
calculations that justify massacre are mistaken, there is no evidence that 
the pleasures of all people have harmonized in the past and obviously there 
is as yet no evidence at all about the future. In fact, the preponderance of 
evidence is against it. The conflict of wars, the conflict of religions, the 
continual cross purposes of individuals all seem to show that if one person 
gets what is good for him, another person cannot. Hence a theory that 
repudiates faith or revelation and is based on observation cannot logically 
object to massacres. At least it cannot object to my seeking my own good 
at the expense of others. 

Sidgwick indeed argued that if we may assume "such a Being as God by 
the consensus of theologians is supposed to be," we may establish morality 
on a utilitarian basis. But he hesitated to assert the existence of God on 
the basis of ethical data. In this he was wise. If it were possible to show 
empirically that all pleasures harmonize, perhaps the existence of God could 
be inferred; but in the absence of such evidence, the inference remains 
ungrounded. In the end Sidgwick cautiously confesses to a sort of 

What makes a Utilitarian appeal to God still more incongruous is that not 
any kind of god will do. The conflict between individual and public good 
cannot be resolved by Aristotle's First Mover or by Hegel's Absolute Spirit. 
On the contrary, it must be a being such as God "by the consensus of 
theologians is supposed to be." Having been written in nineteenth-century 
England, this phrase designates the Christian God. That is to say, if an 
appeal to God is to remove the conflict between private and public good, 
and if a massacre is to produce pain for its perpetrator, then the God 
appealed to must punish Joseph Stalin in a future life and must reward his 
now dead victims to even things up. Stalin certainly did not suffer for his 
crimes in this life. He seems to have been one of the most successful men 
who has ever lived. And obviously his victims did not get their equal share 
of pleasure. Only if God punishes Stalin in Hell can it be maintained that 
God harmonizes all pleasures. But a Utilitarian appeal to Heaven, Hell, and a 
future life is an illegitimate appeal to Christian principles. Bentham rather 
explicitly restricted his sanctions to this life. In general, Utilitarianism is a 
this-worldly theory. Therefore, the appeal to God, if made at all, is 

illegitimate, and the conflict remains an insoluble difficulty. 

There is, however, a second way in which Utilitarianism can avoid the 
justification of massacre. The suggestion is also found in Sidgwick; but it is 
more interesting to note that after sixty years during which Utilitarianism 
has been largely neglected by writers on ethics, a contemporary now 
returns to this second idea. The greatest good of the greatest number is by 
itself an incorrect principle. The criterion by which to distinguish a good act 
from an evil act is not the mere total of pleasure, but the equality of its 
distribution. Massacre may, arguably, produce a greater total of pleasure; 
but the summum bonum is the equal distribution of pleasure. Every person 
in the world should have one unit of pleasure before anyone has two. Or, if 
I may say so, no American should have a college education before every 
Chinese has a bathtub. 

Aside from the illustration provided in the last sentence, such is the 
contention of the recent volume, Ethical Value, by Professor George F. 
Harouni. His main point, at least for the present purpose, is that the equal 
distribution of good - which he prefers to identify as satisfaction rather 
than pleasure - is a criterion of value independent of the amount of 
happiness achieved. When he comes to consider the conflict between 
individual and public good - or, as he phrases it, the relation between utility 
and justice - he finds the problem insoluble except on one premise. 
Dismissing several attempted solutions he concludes, "the only alternative 
open to me, then, is to stuff into my definition of 'right' all that is required" 
(italics his). That is to say, Professor Harouni defines right or good as the 
equal distribution of satisfactions. This really assumes the point at issue. 
For example, he refuses to discuss Kant's view that only a good will can be 
good without qualification, on the ground that it is not an analysis of the 
meaning of good. This refusal is unsatisfactory, for neither Kant's view nor 
that of egoistic hedonism can be refuted by simply defining them out of 

To enforce the point that a definition does not solve the problem under 
discussion, a few remarks on equality may be added. 

First, there is the unanswered question of why equality of distribution 
should be chosen rather than the greater total. A reason rather than a 
definition is called for. Second, equality is not a rational criterion. Surely it 
is not rational in Kant's sense of the term. Its denial does not produce a 
logical contradiction. Or, if this is not what is meant by "rational," we can 

only ask, What is? Is it meant merely that equality is plausible? But, third, 
Harouni's criterion is not plausible. It implies that I am under obligation to 
harm myself, at least to the extent of not enjoying pleasures I might 
achieve, until all other people have as much satisfaction as I now have. 
Does this mean that I ought to distribute my philosophical library to the 
Tibetans and Nepalese? If not, what does it mean? These three points are 
honest, material questions and cannot be set aside simply by deciding to 
define good as the equal distribution of satisfaction. 


But perhaps the most crushing objection is that the calculation required 
under all these forms of Utilitarianism is impossible. It is impossible if we 
consider only one's individual good and all the more so if we try to total in 
the whole human race. Without calculation, Westerners have a strong 
suspicion that murder causes a surplus of pain over pleasure, yet in less 
violent and more ordinary matters what is there to rely on but pure 
guesswork? Should I buy stock on the New York Exchange? There is 
something more than guesswork by which we can reasonably conclude that 
one stock will be more profitable financially than another. But will the 
money gained give me more pleasure than another course of action? 
Perhaps I should buy a new car instead. Or should I invest my money at 
Las Vegas and Reno? How will each of these affect my grandchildren? Is it 
better for me, a young man, to become a physician, a veterinarian, or an 
engineer? Should I major in English, History, or Geology? These are 
perfectly serious questions that many people have had to ask themselves. 
But how could anyone possibly estimate the amounts, the durations, and 
the intensities of the pleasures to be caused by each of these decisions, 
not only the pleasures he himself will experience, but the pleasures of all 
others who will be affected by his action? Is not Utilitarian calculation 

Utilitarianism holds that the goodness or moral character of an act 
depends on its tendency to produce pleasurable consequences for the 
human race as a whole. Surely it must be admitted that the impossibility of 
deciding which of two actions conduces to the good is a legitimate point of 
criticism, for a theory of ethics that gives no specific guidance in the 
actual circumstances of life can hardly be called a theory of ethics at all. 

The Good 

Yet there is another and still more important point of criticism. An 
acceptable theory of ethics ought at least to identify the end of action, 
even if it cannot indicate the effective means thereto. Now, Utilitarianism 
has just shown itself unable to do the latter; can it then do the former? Is 
the good at which we should aim personal pleasure, the greatest sum total 
of pleasure for everyone, the equal distribution of pleasure, or something 
altogether different from pleasure? Is it possible to know what the good is? 
Again, a theory of ethics that failed to identify the aim of life is even more 
obviously no theory of ethics at all. 

For the purpose of considering this point, the language and the 
discussions of the twentieth century are clearer than those of the 
nineteenth. Though it is true that Utilitarianism made pleasure the goal of 
all our activity and gave some reasons therefor, the ambiguity of the term 
pleasure has been noted by nearly every anti-hedonistic writer from Plato 
on. So great are the contrasts among pleasures that John Stuart Mill was 
forced to abandon the basic hedonism that made these differences 
immaterial. The problem has been examined more explicitly in recent years, 
and the term value has been substituted for pleasure. Such a substitution, 
whether it be the term value or satisfaction, can hardly alter the nature of 
the problem; the difficulties remain the same; but perhaps it will seem 
more up-to-date to use twentieth-century language. 

First, however, let us state the questions once more. Is it possible for a 
descriptive theory of ethics, an empirical theory of ethics, a theory that 
makes no use of revelation, to give us a rational program for life? How do 
the naturalists and humanists, or even those who try to base a religion on 
experience, arrive at their conclusions respecting the good? 

Values in Experience 

The usual method in recent literature is to claim that values can be 
found in experience. The late Edgar Sheffield Brightman is a good example 
of those who try to base a religion on values found in experience. He 
defined value as "whatever is actually liked, prized, esteemed, desired, 
approved, or enjoyed by anyone at any time.... Good," he says, "is 
synonymous with value." Burtt, on the other hand, speaking for the 
humanists, finds in experience the values of friendship, art, and science. 
Dewey also finds that art is of value, though he often uses the more 

commonplace arrangements of heating, lighting, and speedy communication 
as instances of values. But whatever the particular items are, the fact that 
they are values is supposed to be a discovery of experience. 

Brightman's definition of value is particularly broad. If we are to call 
valuable anything that anyone has ever liked or enjoyed, then we should 
have to list not only friendship, art, and science, but also whiskey, 
gambling, and crime. Nor are these last three to be added merely as the 
hostile criticism of an unfriendly opponent. On the contrary, Gardner 
Williams of the University of Toledo, in his volume, Humanistic Ethics, 
says, "Selfish ambition, or the will to power, when successful, is 
intrinsically good because it is intrinsically satisfactory" (6). Thus murder is 
a value because it has been discovered as a value in experience. Successful 
murder and ambition have been conspicuously exemplified in the dictator 
Stalin. Let it be admitted that you and I do not have the skill and the 
determination to emulate him; our efforts to dominate a nation would soon 
fail and we would come to grief; but can empirical theories consistently 
disapprove of such an eminent success as Stalin? Is not murder as truly a 
value as art, or prayer, or modern heating systems? 

It happens that most of the humanists, and of course the religionists like 
Brightman, want to produce a theory that would condemn murder and 
brutality. How they proceed, we must examine with care. But much more 
important than condemning brutality is the necessity of avoiding the chaos 
of subjectivity implicit in the definition of value as anything anyone likes or 
enjoys. Strange as it may seem, there would be less logical objection to a 
theory that definitely recommended murder than to a theory that made all 
desires equally legitimate. If dictatorship and domination is the goal of life, 
then at least there is a norm of conduct that applies to all mankind. It may 
not be the norm you or I now accept, but it is a definite norm. And that 
makes it a theory of ethics. But if all we can say is that murder is right 
for Stalin, and prayer is right for Brightman, and guzzling booze is right for 
the alcoholic, then we have no ethics at all because we have no theory at 
all. In such a case there is no universal norm. 

It is essential, therefore, that those who begin with values as enjoyments 
found in anyone's experience must somehow show that certain values are 
values for all men. Brightman in his way and Dewey in his both try to avoid 
the chaos of subjectivism. A previous footnote gave a reference to 
Brightman's theory of value, and the arguments will not be reproduced here. 

But since Dewey has so widely influenced the American scene, it seems 
wise to summarize the criticism contained in the book mentioned in the 
same footnote. 

Dewey and Instrumentalism 

For Dewey and Instrumentalism the difficulties of ethics are important 
not merely in themselves alone, not merely for a theory of ethics by itself, 
but much more for the entire scope of that type of philosophy. If there is 
any crucial point at which humanism is obligated to present a convincing 
and indeed an unanswerable argument, it is with respect to the field of 
ethics. Of course the reason is not that ethics, unlike symbolic logic, is 
immediately important to the everyday life of an individual whether he is a 
philosopher or not. Nor is the reason merely that ethics is essential to a 
comprehensive system of philosophy. This would be true for Aristotle and 
Hegel as well as for Dewey. But rather, Instrumentalism must stake its 
claim on ethics because it makes an activistic practical interest the 
foundation of its system. This is the school that has inveighed most 
vehemently against ivory towers and the detachment of empyrean 
contemplation. Eternity and other-worldliness are called delusions. Thinking 
concerns this world, and ideas are plans of overt action. Ethical principles 
are absolutely basic in humanistic Pragmatism. 

This is not true of Christianity. Admittedly, Christianity with its message 
of salvation from sin lays great stress on a hunger and thirst after 
righteousness. Particularly in the Calvinistic tradition, the Ten 
Commandments have been emphasized. But ethics is not the foundation of 
the Christian system. Christianity is based on theology, and ethics is a 
derivative subject. What is right and what is wrong is determined by God's 
commands. But with the Instrumentalists, ethics is the basic subject. 

That Instrumentalism recognizes its need of ethics could be documented 
many times over. Nearly any one of Dewey's books would furnish apposite 
quotations. Here only one will be used, a quotation from his Quest for 
Certainty: "The effective condition of the integration of all divided purposes 
and conflicts of belief is the realization that intelligent action is the sole 
ultimate resource of mankind in every field whatsoever." [3] 

A second reading of this quotation shows its universal application. Not 
some only, but all divided purposes are to be integrated; not some subjects 
only, but every field whatsoever is covered. Intelligent action is man's sole 

ultimate resource; there is no other at all. There is no God from whom 
man can obtain comfort, encouragement, and strength - much less wisdom, 
instruction, and intervention. Man has only himself. 

It is this atheism that throws into relief the desperate need of an 
irrefragable theory of ethics. If humanism fails to save man from the plight 
of his conflicts in every field whatsoever, humanism fails indeed. It may 
have an admirable theory of science, it may devise effective aids in 
education, it may stimulate professors to take part in politics; but since 
science and politics are only means to chosen ends and ideals, if humanism 
cannot rationally justify one ideal as against another, if its theory of ethics 
cannot give clearcut guidance in the perplexities of life, it will have failed in 
its main endeavor and must be abandoned. 

The main topic of the present discussion is the identification of ideals, 
norms, or values. Something along the way will have to be said about the 
means to the achievement of these values, but the main interest is in the 
end to be attained. In the language of the Shorter Catechism, we are 
asking, What is the chief end of man? Let us not prejudge the matter, 
however. Dewey would hesitate at the idea of one single chief end. He 
prefers to speak in the plural. Let us then do likewise. Our aim is to 
identify norms, ideals, or values. 

Changing Morality 

First of all, it must be noted that whatever ideals or standards Dewey 
may propose, they are not to be regarded as fixed and final norms for all 
human beings. 

We institute standards of justice, truth, esthetic quality, etc.... 
exactly as we set up a platinum bar as a standard measurer of 
lengths. The standard is just as much subject to modification and 
revision in the one case as in the other on the basis of the 
consequences of its operational application: ...The superiority of one 
conception of justice to another is of the same order as the superiority 
of the metric system... although not of the same quality.^! 

This comparison between a standard of justice and a standard of 
measurement is not an adequate illustration for Dewey's purposes. In 
measuring lines the result is the same whether one uses inches or 
centimeters. When two weights are compared, grams and ounces will 

uniformly agree on which is the heavier. But in morality Dewey will have an 
act to be commendable on one standard and evil on another. For Dewey's 
purposes, then, another illustration is better. 

Moral standards, he says, are like language in that both are the result of 
custom. Theories of absolute ethics argue that ideal standards antecede 
customs and judge of their rightness or wrongness; any alleged ideals that 
are merely the result of custom could not be its judge. That this 
absolutism is at best unnecessary is seen in the case of language. There 
were no antecedent principles of grammar. Language evolved from 
unintelligent babblings and instinctive gestures. Then came the rules of 
grammar and the apparatus of literacy. This, however, is not the end, for 
the language and its grammar change to meet new situations and new 
needs. Words change their forms and meanings; new expressions are 
invented; and the old rules become archaic. Nevertheless, the rules of 
language, though merely the unforeseen and unintended results of custom, 
exercise their authority over us. Grammar and morals are both parts of life. 
No one can escape them, even if he wants to. Man's choice is simply 
between adopting more or less significant customs. 

This analogy between the rules of grammar and the principles of morality 
carries important implications. Most obvious is the fact that different 
nations use different languages. Of course, if we wish to speak French, we 
must conform to its customs sufficiently to be understood. And if we are 
born French, we do not have much choice at first. Eventually, however, it 
may become possible to emigrate to the United States. This involves a 
decision to speak English rather than French. The opportunity to disapprove 
of the moral customs of a nation, and against social pressure to live a 
different kind of life, is more readily available than emigration. The 
Christian martyrs of the early centuries and of the Reformation had decided 
against prevailing custom. Does not this require a moral norm superior to 
the customs that are condemned? 

Dewey's analogy with language tends to minimize the importance of this 
question. After all, it is of no great moment whether a person speaks 
French, German, or English, nor whether he breaks a few rules of grammar 
in doing so. But Christian missionaries report that in certain sections of 
Africa social customs are such that girls scarcely reach their teens before 
they have been raped half-a-dozen times. And it was only last century that 
there were cannibal tribes on several Pacific islands. Even today, as 

independence is granted to the Congo, cannibalism, as well as tribal 
warfare, is reviving. Missionaries have opposed these "moral standards," 
these products of custom, these results of instinctive gestures. They 
preach that divinely revealed, fixed, and universal standards condemn such 
actions. Now, if this is not true, and if ethics is analogous to language, can 
there be any justification for imposing the customs of one society upon 
another society? Does not the condemnation of one set of customs require 
a norm that is more than the effect of another set of customs? 

Dewey has an interesting and perhaps a disturbing answer to this 
question. In the first place he asserts that the proponents of fixed 
standards, such as Christian missionaries, are self-deceived. They have in 
fact no absolute norm. Their moral ideas are merely the results of the 
customs of their own group. Custom therefore is still the source of all 
morality. Now, in the second place, the opposition of one custom to a wider 
custom is a form of class warfare, indeed "the most serious form of class 
warfare." Class warfare is not overscrupulous. Each side treats its opponent 
as a willful violator of absolute moral principles. Thus we have the present 
conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Hence the notion of 
fixed moral standards results in a war that can be ended only by force. 

Thus by this twofold answer Dewey consistently explains how, even if 
morals are nothing more than custom, moral conflicts between societies 
can as a matter of fact occur. But in doing so does he not imply that 
cannibalism is as good in its place as Christian morality is in its place? 
Does not the tone of his remarks suggest that rape remains commendable 
in Africa and that Christian missionaries are despicable imperialists? The 
difference in moral standards, therefore, is not the difference between 
inches and centimeters, which always give the same result; it is a 
difference such that no ideal or norm applies everywhere, to everybody, and 
all the time. 

Values in Experience 

The denial of fixed and universal standards is of major importance, but 
there is also a lesser problem that Dewey must face. Even if the values of 
Africa and of Christendom differ, how can the people in either society 
identify their values in the flux of experience? Can Dewey's methods, when 
applied in the United States, distinctly conclude that one particular type of 
action is good and valuable, and another type is not? 

John Dewey believed that he had seen the problem clearly and that he 
had discovered the key to its solution. The deepest problem of modern life, 
so he held, is the integration of man's beliefs about the physical world with 
his beliefs about human values. In the middle ages, science and religion 
were harmonious because they were both developed against a single 
philosophical background. All problems were solved on Thomistic principles. 
Today, however, medieval science has disappeared, but common beliefs 
about value still retain some medieval flavor. Since, now, modern conduct is 
mainly motivated by modern science, the result is that the conduct of 
modern man conflicts with his beliefs about values. Because of two 
reactions to this conflict, two disadvantages arise. Some men with a strong 
emotional attachment to the antiquated theory of value disparage and 
retard science, at least by dissipating their energies in unfruitful endeavors. 
The other type accepts science wholeheartedly, but because the values they 
have been taught cannot be scientifically established, they repudiate value 
altogether. Therefore the important problem for a philosophy that does not 
wish to be isolated from modern life is to harmonize modern theory and 

The solution of this problem is to be found in a more thorough 
exploitation of scientific method. As science detached problem after 
problem from the medieval synthesis, its successes accumulated until now, 
in the twentieth century, there is reason to suppose that all the problems 
of humanity are amenable to the same method. Beliefs about values, about 
ethics and sociology, are today in much the same state as were beliefs 
about physics in the pre-scientific era. What is needed is the application of 
scientific techniques. Only two attitudes block the acceptance of this view. 
With some there is a basic distrust of the capacity of experience to 
develop standards, ideals, or norms for life. This first attitude depends on 
eternal values and appeals to a Supreme Being. No hope can be expected 
from such a theistic view. Secular interests now dominate men's minds; 
the sense of transcendental values has become enfeebled; the authority of 
the church has diminished; men may profess the old religion, but they act 
secularly. This divergence between what men do and what they say is the 
outward evidence of the conflict in modern thought. To solve the problem 
and remove the conflict, men's thoughts should be made to conform to 
what they do. To invent an example Dewey does not use: Men play golf on 
Sunday and believe in the existence of God; while continuing to play golf, 

they should be taught to repudiate belief in God, rather than to change their 
conduct and go to church. 

The second attitude which blocks acceptance of the scientific method is 
the enjoyment of pleasures, goods, or values irrespective of the method 
used to produce this enjoyment. Such a view supposes that "to be enjoyed 
and to be a value are two names for one and the same fact." This attitude 
or theory of value is superior to the theistic view in that the values are 
concrete experiences of desire and satisfaction here and now. Its failure 
arises from the fact that these enjoyments are casual and unregulated by 
intelligence. Escape from transcendental absolutism is not to be had in 
casual enjoyments, but in defining value by enjoyments which are the 
consequences of intelligent action. "Without the intervention of thought, 
enjoyments are not values but problematic goods, becoming values when 
they reissue in a changed form from intelligent behavior .'T51 

Enjoyments therefore are fugitive and precarious so that there is needed 
a method of discriminating among them on the basis of their conditions and 
consequences. Goods are just goods, with certain intrinsic qualities; of 
them as goods there is nothing to be said; they are simply what they are. 
Whatever can be said of them pertains to their causes and effects. The 
reason for enjoying an object is often that it is a means to or a result of 
something else; the reason concerns the cause of the enjoyment and has 
nothing to do with its intrinsic qualities. 

Before continuing the summary, one should stop to note a confusing 
factor in the lines above. True it is that things are often enjoyed, or at 
least chosen, because they are causes of something else. Such goods, by 
some authors, are called instrumental as opposed to intrinsic goods; and 
they range from taking a cab to the airport to visiting the dentist. But 
Dewey's argument really requires that this be the case, not just "often," but 
always. Let us stop and ask whether all goods are instrumental, or whether 
some are intrinsic. Is it true that the reason for enjoying something has 
nothing to do with its intrinsic qualities? This question should be kept in 
mind as the summary proceeds. 

A genuine good therefore, Dewey continues, differs from a spurious good 
because of reflection on consequences. All criticism concerns consequences 
because no properties carry adequate credentials on their face. 

In this connection two points should be raised. The first, mentioned a 
few lines above, concerns the antecedents of which the value in question is 

a consequence. This point has to do with the enjoyment of casual pleasures 
irrespective of the method used to produce them. The second and perhaps 
more important point touches on the consequences which the enjoyment 
itself produces. 

To invent an example, suppose that a man applies for a job, does his 
work, and is paid; in such a case the money is not a spurious good but a 
real value because it was earned by intelligent action. Had the man found 
the same amount of money on the sidewalk, it would not have been a real 
value. So Dewey contends. To most people, however, money found is just 
as valuable as money earned. In fact, although the purchasing power of a 
dollar earned and of a dollar found are the same, the work of earning may 
be so lengthy and laborious that the sum of a life's values are diminished 
by intelligent foresight and increased by a lucky find. The workman's time 
and strength might well be so exhausted that what the dollar buys could 
barely be enjoyed. Thus one might say - in sharp contrast with Dewey - 
that the casual, unearned enjoyment is the greater value. 

Of course, if Dewey meant merely that it is not wise to depend for one's 
living on finding money in the street, his argument would be sound enough, 
but it would be trivial. A theist of the most pronounced supernatural views, 
as well as the Epicurean who tries to avoid trouble by dozing in the sun, 
would agree that a certain amount of planning and work are necessary for 
most of our ordinary satisfactions. This triviality cannot be the basis of 
Dewey's antagonism to theists and Epicureans. His expressions and 
emphasis seem to say that unexpected enjoyments are simply of no value. 
They are spurious. 

This view, which seems so odd to common sense, apparently depends on 
the thesis that the value of an object depends on its being a result of and a 
means to something else, and in particular does not depend on its intrinsic 
enjoyable quality. Nothing is valuable in itself. Enough has been said now of 
the antecedents of the enjoyment; the second point concerns the 
consequences of the enjoyed value. 

On this point too the criticism, continuing to press the issue of intrinsic 
value, will be much the same. It may be granted that we assign value to 
money because of the possible consequences, namely, the things we can 
buy with it; in this sense a bill or a check, being only a piece of paper, does 
not carry value credentials on its face. But is this to say that nothing does? 
Is there nothing valuable for itself alone? Are all values merely 

instrumental? Is there no final end whatever? 

For purposes of illustration a game of chess will do. Is the pleasure of 
chess dependent for its value on the consequences? Of course, chess may 
be used to cement friendships, and no doubt other consequences could be 
ingeniously listed. But ordinarily the reason for playing chess is not at all 
that the game is a means to or a result of something else. On the 
contrary, it has all to do with its intrinsic value-quality. If the credentials 
on its face were not adequate, chess would not be chosen. 

Dewey, in strange company with Aristotle, might spurn this illustration of 
chess. Playing games is not a sufficiently serious activity to be 
commensurate with major human endeavors. Besides, as Aristotle said, 
recreation is for the sake of work; we play in order to work: We do not 
work in order to play. Although such sentiments fit the Aristotelian 
viewpoint very well, it is not so clear that Dewey can use them with much 
consistency. If nothing is intrinsically valuable, how could one insist that 
play is a means to work rather than the reverse? If nothing carries its own 
credentials, how could one distinguish between the serious and the trivial? 
Aristotle made recreation a means to an intrinsically valuable activity, an 
activity that is chosen for its own sake and not as a means to anything 
else. But if, as Dewey says, there is no final cause, and if everything is 
chosen merely as a means to something else, and never because of its 
intrinsic qualities, does it make any difference what we choose? 

Young men and women in large numbers choose to go to college. On 
Dewey's theory, only too well accepted by the students, the reason cannot 
be any intrinsic value in knowledge. To give such a reason would be to flee 
from reality and take refuge in the discredited Aristotelian ivory tower. For 
the young man, college is a means of getting a better job; for the young 
woman, it is a means of getting a better man. But neither the family that 
marriage brings nor the food that the job supplies is to be chosen for any 
intrinsic quality. These too are merely means to something else. College is 
the means to a job; a job is the means to marriage; marriage is the means 
to a family; a family, along with the job, is the means of sending a son to 
college. But chess is the means of restricting social contacts to a small 
number; restricting social contacts is the means of avoiding marriage; 
single blessedness saves the money one would spend on a son's tuition; 
and this money is the means for purchasing a more handsome set of 
chessmen. But why follow one causal series rather than the other? All 

activities are valueless means to other valueless means. The means have 
no end, and choice has become irrational. Or, at least, choices are based on 
nothing else than personal preference. 

Here it would seem that another humanist sees more clearly than John 
Dewey. Gardner Williams writes, "It does not matter, from an individual's 
point of view, how he is satisfied, so long as, in the long run, he is 
satisfied." [6] 

In this context the how would seem to include, not only the identification 
of the object that gives satisfaction, but also the means by which the 
object was obtained. In this case the object would be equally valuable or 
satisfying, whether it was obtained by intelligent foresight and attention to 
the means of production, or whether it was obtained by pure luck. 

To these last assertions Dewey would probably reply with some 
expressions of disgust. Such opinions he would repudiate, not merely as a 
lack of enthusiasm for scientific method, but also as an avoidance of 
responsibility for reconstructing economic, political, and religious 
institutions. In a number of places Dewey bases his rejection of opposing 
theories on sociological preferences. Epistemology, for example, wastes 
time that could profitably be spent in remedying social evils. Thought 
should not be employed for any private good; if it aims at some special 
result, it is not sincere. Strange to say, in this context he even speaks of 
"something worthwhile for itself," though on the next page he adds with 
more consistency that "there is no particular end set up in advance so as 
to shut in the activities of observation, forming of ideas, and application." 
Instead of 

emotional satisfaction and private comfort.. .the satisfaction in 
question means a satisfaction of the needs and conditions of the 
problem out of which the idea, the purpose and method of action 
arises.... So repulsive is a conception of truth which makes it a mere 
tool of private ambition and aggrandizement that the wonder is that 
critics have attributed such a notion to sane men. [71 

But is Dewey's disgust a sufficient reply to the objections? On what 
grounds can he construct a theory of sociology that would eliminate 
epistemology as a waste of time? Can he distinguish a social evil from a 
social value? By what logical argument can Dewey recommend college 
rather than chess? Has he any reason for being disgusted at private good? 

He cannot rightly claim that critics have mistakenly attributed crazy 
notions to sane men. Professor Williams is a sane man; so were the 
Sophists and the Epicureans. And many other men will refuse to relinquish 
particular ends, private comfort, and intrinsic goods merely because Dewey 
finds them repulsive. 

Security and Scientific Ethics 

Behind Dewey's disgust and behind the insistence that the methods of 
science will solve ethical problems lies a contrast that Dewey was fond of 
emphasizing. It is the contrast between certainty and security. Religionists, 
mystics, and deluded Platonists seek for certainty and sometimes claim 
that they have actually come into possession of absolute truth. But the 
Instrumentalist theory of science and F. C. S. Schiller's keen criticism of 
Plato show that fixed truth cannot be had. The traditional desire for 
certainty should therefore be abandoned. In its place modern science has 
provided something much better - security. Chemistry improves the food 
supply of civilized peoples. Physics allows for the invention of telephones, 
radio, and jet planes. If, now, we scientifically study the means and 
conditions by which ends or values can be made more secure, we have in 
Dewey's opinion solved the problems of ethics. 

But what is the problem of ethics? Is it indeed the problem of security? 
Is it not rather the choice of what to secure? Dewey has indicated some 
rather definite political choices. He opposes laissez-faire, liberty, and 
individualism and advocates some type of collectivism. Yet we are forced 
to ask whether the scientific method of his theory compels us to choose 
the one rather than the other. Science furnishes means to whatever a man 
may choose. But can it furnish any reason for choosing this in preference 
to that? The main question, therefore, is not how to secure values, but how 
to select them. To substitute security for certainty under these conditions 
must be an act of philosophic and existential desperation. 

However, security, reflection on conditions and consequences, and the 
disparagement of intrinsic qualities are a consistent application of the 
parallelism of ethics with science. Science turned its back on the 
immediately perceived wetness of water in order to form a conception, 
H20, that could produce more secure and more significant experiences of 
the wetness. Things enjoyed should be treated similarly; they are 
possibilities of values to be achieved. To say that something is enjoyed is 

equivalent to saying water is wet. This may be a fact, but it is not a value. 
A value is something satisfactory; and the satisfactory is that which will 
do, i.e., a prediction concerning the future, not a statement about the 
present. A statement about the present - such as, this experience is 
satisfying - only raises a problem. Granted that we enjoy it, how is the 
enjoyment to be rated? Is it a value or not? Is it something to be enjoyed? 
To say that it is a value means that it will continue to satisfy. It will do. A 
statement of present fact makes no claim on action, but a judgment about 
what is to be desired looks to the future and possesses de jure and not 
merely de facto quality. 

In the light of previous ethical speculation, the distinction between a 
merely de facto quality and a de jure quality would seem to be an 
important one. Is it possible to see that one enjoyment will not do and that 
another will do? How can we distinguish the value that will continue to 
satisfy in the future from the one that will not? And how can this 
distinction be made without private comforts and final ends? 

Dewey notes that although values must be connected inherently with 
likings, preferences, or desires, they are not to be connected with any 
random preference, but only with those rationally approved after 
examination. The conflict between thoughtless, sporadic wishes and plans 
reflectively chosen for long-term purposes is a common one. About the 
first, people usually say, I would like to do or have this; but about the 
second, they assert, with regret or determination, I ought to do that. Dewey 
must take into account the "ought" of traditional morality, and the 
distinction between de jure and de facto is to the point. The question is 
whether Instrumentalism can justify such a distinction. What sort of 
examination will reveal that one liking is to be approved and another 
rejected? And inasmuch as Dewey criticizes the rationalistic theory on the 
score that it affords no guidance, one naturally expects that Dewey will 
provide the guidance. 

What sort of examination Dewey has in mind is clear enough - at least it 
is easy to quote the sentences by which Dewey believes he has met the 
requirements. In fact, he puts one of them in italics: "Judgments about 
values are judgments about the conditions and the results of experienced 
objects; judgments about that which should regulate the formation of our 
desires, affections, and enjoyments." When duties or values conflict, 
dogmatism attempts to construct a scale of values. But this, says Dewey, 

is a confession of inability to judge the concrete. The alternate to a 
hierarchical scheme is judgment by means of the relations in which values 
occur. One must examine their causes, conditions, and consequences, their 
interactions and connections; the more we ascertain of these details, the 
more we know the objects in question, and the better we can judge its 
value. He states, "Enjoyments that issue from conduct directed by insight 
into relations have a meaning and a validity due to the way in which they 
are experienced. Such enjoyments are not to be repented of; they generate 
no aftertaste of bitterness." 

Dewey's argument here depends on three related assumptions: that 
casual enjoyments are not values, that values are means to ends, and that 
enjoyments chosen in the light of their relations are not to be repented of. 
He gives an example. Heating and lighting, speed of transportation and 
communication, have been attained, not by lauding their desirability, but by 
studying their conditions. "Knowledge of relations having been obtained, 
ability to produce followed, and enjoyment ensued as a matter of course." 

If this example is intended to show how scientific method can produce 
ideals, it is not convincing. Scientific method undoubtedly secures speed of 
transportation, but enjoyment and satisfaction do not follow as a matter of 
course. Speed of transportation and communication help to make war more 
horrible. Knowledge of relations and ability to produce can be directed 
toward painful ends as easily as toward pleasurable ends. In both cases the 
means are valuable for the production of the ends; and in both cases the 
agent may have an exhaustive knowledge of causes, conditions, 
consequences, interactions, and connections; but where is it shown that 
scientific procedure can distinguish between a good end and an evil end? In 
other words, must there not be a value, a good, an end, whose intrinsic 
goodness can motivate a choice before our knowledge of means, conditions, 
and circumstances will lead us to secure it? Can science possibly justify 

Evil Ideals 

It is in this line of thought that the distinction between de facto and de 
jure quality becomes clearly necessary. Dewey agrees that there are wrong 
ideals. Without aesthetic enjoyment, mankind might become a race of 
economic monsters capable of using leisure only in ostentatious display and 
extravagant dissipation. Apparently no amount of knowledge of interactions 

and relations will make economic monsters a value. But why not? The 
peace settlement of World War I was made with the most realistic 
attention to concrete details of economic advantage, and Dewey never tires 
of insisting on concrete details; the aims too were broadly social and were 
not limited to private comfort; but at Versailles, according to Dewey, it 
was attention to economic advantage distributed in proportion to physical 
power that created future disturbances. And presumably this was bad. The 
evil of such a situation does not arise from the absence of ideals (much 
less, it must also be said, from an ignorance of details), but rather the 
greatest evils arise from the wrong ideals. How then can further attention 
to realistic detail identify valuable ideals? Dewey berates short-sightedness 
and insists that one should not sacrifice the future to immediate pleasure. 
But will farsightedness solve the problem if it cannot see far enough to 
pass beyond valuable means to an intrinsically valuable end? 

That the methods of science cannot be applied in the determination of 
ethical principles can best be appreciated if one keeps clearly in mind the 
specific results Dewey thinks he has obtained by his methods. And to make 
the discussion still more concrete, the ideals mentioned by one of Dewey's 
wholehearted and influential disciples - Professor William Heard Kilpatrick - 
will be added to the list. In every case the question must be: Does 
scientific method show whether this ideal is good or evil? 

For one thing, Dewey repudiates the aims of private, one-sided 
advantage: "a personal end is repulsive." An Instrumentalist theory of truth, 
he complains, has too often been thought of in terms of satisfying some 
purely personal need. This is a mistake. The satisfaction that 
Instrumentalism provides, Dewey explains, is "a satisfaction of the needs 
and conditions of the problem out of which the idea, the purpose and 
method of action, arises. It includes public and objective conditions." 

Superficially, at least, this much may be admitted. Whether I am 
developing new vaccines or investing in the stock market, there is plenty of 
stubborn objectivity to be taken into account. And in this sense the problem 
has "needs and conditions" which must be satisfied. But what shall be said 
of the prior choice between developing vaccines and investing in the stock 
market? The former presumably is not privately or personally motivated 
(though of course it may be), and the latter is as good an example as any 
of purely personal satisfaction. But what procedure of science - either 
biological science or economic science, not to mention physics and 

chemistry - demonstrates empirically that a purely private end is 
repulsive? Certainly there is here an unbridged gap between Dewey's 
premises and his conclusion; and it would seem that the gap is 
unbridgeable. Egoism is not so easily refuted. 

If a broad rejection of personal aims is too vague, Dewey also has more 
specific ideals. He mentions health, wealth, friendship, industry, 
temperance, courtesy, learning, and initiative, as well as lighting, heating, 
and transportation.]]?] These specifications are indeed sufficiently definite; 
and as they are typical, they go a long way toward rescuing ethics from the 
bog of eternal values, if not from the rigidity of fixed truths. 

Kilpatrick is similarly specific. Bodily health and vigor is a good that no 
modern-minded man would deny. A well-adjusted personality, satisfying 
personal relationships, meaningful work as opposed to a life of leisure, 
music, an adequate social life, and a non-supernatural religion are examples 
of Kilpatrick's twelve constituents of the good life. Morality is whatever 
advances this good life.[9] 

Further specific ideals can be inferred from his deprecation of ancient 
Sparta's military system and his praise of Periclean Athens . \ 101 He is also 
explicitly opposed to racial discrimination; fill he holds that laissez-faire is 
an evil, [12] as is also the old-fashioned Americanism that believed in the 
government's duty to protect private property and to maintain inalienable 
rights .[13] 

Most emphatically he is opposed to religious liberty. Not only would he 
prevent religious groups from maintaining schools and colleges, [14] he 
believes it is "undemocratic" to allow parents to teach the doctrines of 
their religion to their own children. Apparently the government, as in Russia, 
should invade the home and enforce belief in humanistic secularism. 

Two questions, however: Was it the scientific method that selected 
these ideals, and was it laboratory procedure that proved their desirability? 
Or are these ideals the evil ideals of secular bigotry? 


Dewey, as was said before, admits that some aims are evil. In one of his 
books he asserts that no honest person can convince himself that murder 
would have beneficial consequences, and he also adds that a normal person 
will immediately resent an act of wanton cruelty. There are, nonetheless, a 
large number of people, presumably abnormal, who enjoy bullfights. But 

Dewey stakes his claim on normal people, who are fair-minded. 

Philosophically this begs the question. The members of the S.P.C.A. 
regard bullfight fans as a low breed of humanity. In return, the latter 
believe that the former just do not have a normal sense of fun. On what 
basis then is this disagreement to be resolved? Must not one first define 
the right and good, and only on this basis decide who is normal and fair- 
minded? Or can we simply say that these honorific designations are to be 
applied to the preferences of the majority? The plausibility that a normal 
person resents wanton cruelty and condemns murder lies in the fact that 
the statement is true in the United States, at the present time, because of 
our Christian heritage. But it is not true in Communistic countries. There 
murder and massacre are definitely accepted as having very beneficial 
consequences. Now, if Dewey and Kilpatrick succeed in destroying 
Christianity by prohibiting parents to give their children religious instruction, 
could anyone be sure that massacre would still be thought wrong? 

One difficulty here is that Dewey assumes a universal moral agreement, 
whether on murder or on bullfights, where none or little exists; and the 
reader is expected to accept the assumption without question. Dewey's 
statement about murder and wanton cruelty is not only factually untrue, but 
it also begs the question because he has nowhere produced scientific 
evidence that murder never has beneficial results. Nor can his own 
principles consist with such a fixed moral norm as this would be, if it could 
be proved. Dewey's insistence on the tentativeness of all practical 
hypotheses requires him to admit that wanton cruelty may someday be the 
most efficient means to a social goal. 

This emphasis on the disagreement about murder, the disagreement 
between Spanish bullfighters and Puritans, between Christian parents and 
Kilpatrick, between any two incompatible ideals underscores the most 
serious flaw in Dewey's philosophy. To resolve such disagreements, Dewey 
must promise that science will decide between the aims of parents versus 
the aims of secular educators. In general, Dewey's assumption is that 
science can produce well-nigh universal moral agreement. Or, at the very 
least, science can determine values. But Dewey has failed the test at its 
easiest point. Was not murder the clearest example of evil - an example 
that every fair-minded person would agree to? Yet Dewey has not 
succeeded in showing how this moral judgment can be justified by scientific 
procedure. Indeed, for all his insistence that science can solve all problems 

and that values can only arise through relating means to proximate ends, 
Dewey, so far as I know, has not given a single instance of thus 
discovering a value. He seems to admit as much.£15] But is it unreasonable 
to ask for just one instance? 

Is Life Worth Living? 

One critic of Dewey remarked that however much Instrumentalism 
asserts universal flux, the system has one eternal, fixed, unchangeable 
absolute: the value of inquiry, the importance of solving problems. Behind 
this fixed truth is the more general principle that life is worth living. Surely 
this point ought not to be evaded and passed over in silence. It has been a 
matter of disagreement. It marks out an indeterminate situation. It should 
be a subject of inquiry, requiring a solution in terms of some idea that is a 
plan of action. Nor is it an artificial problem. Many men face it under 
various forms. 

In the twentieth century, the form in which death becomes a live option 
for many materializes under totalitarian oppression. Thousands have risked 
death by fleeing through the Iron Curtain of barbed wire and machine gun 
bullets. Other thousands met death in the Hungarian bid for freedom. All of 
these would doubtless have preferred to live, but by risking death they 
showed that they thought that life was not worth living under Communism. 
There is also a smaller number who have committed suicide. Then, too, 
there are others who have committed suicide without having been driven to 
it by such oppression. Several of the Stoics decided that it was better to 
die than live. In the United States also the suicide rate has risen sharply 
during the last fifty years. The value of life, therefore, is not an artificial 
problem, and Instrumentalism is obliged to defend its optimistic or at least 
melioristic attitude. Christianity with its revelational basis asserts that 
suicide is immoral; but what can be said by an empirical, descriptive 

This question of suicide is not to be understood as just one detail among 
many. It is not as though we had canvassed the merits of stealing, lying, 
adultery, murder, and - oh yes, there is one more - suicide. On the 
contrary, the mention of suicide is intended to bring to the fore the 
absolutely indispensable prerequisite of all other ethical decisions. Theft 
versus honesty and cruelty versus kindness are possible choices only if we 
have previously decided to continue living. On what basis, therefore, can it 

be shown that life is worth the time and trouble? 

The value of life, and therefore the manner of living it when suicide is 
ruled out, is not the matter of exuberant agreement that Dewey seems to 
assume. All that Dewey takes so wholeheartedly for granted has been 
vigorously denied and attacked by thinkers of world renown and by 
significant portions of the human race. Buddhism, for instance, holds that 
pain is a necessary element in the universal process; desire is the cause of 
pain; and suppression of desire, completed in the unconsciousness of 
Nirvana, is the only remedy for pain. A Buddhist would probably say that 
these principles are such obvious conclusions from an observation of the 
world that only the willfully blind can fail to see them. 

In the Western world this view was adopted by Arthur Schopenhauer. 
True, neither the Buddhists nor Schopenhauer believed that suicide is the 
proper solution. Nevertheless, it should be clearly kept in mind that the type 
of life that follows from a pessimistic principle must be vastly different 
from that based on a confident meliorism. 

Hence a first conclusion is inescapable. Those moralists who have 
proceeded as if all men agree on what is desirable must be judged to have 
failed. They must be forced to open their eyes and face the basic problems. 
Not only must they be forced to explain why, instead of brutality and 
totalitarianism, they prefer certain elements salvaged from Christian 
morality; but they must also be forced to justify life itself. This they have 
not done, and therefore their systems are failures. 

Concluding Criticism 

To return to Dewey's main thesis that science can solve the problem of 
morality, the criticism that has controlled the argument all along is twofold. 
First, scientific method does not justify the ideals of Dewey and Kilpatrick; 
and, second, scientific method cannot justify any ideal. 

Though the first point is of lesser logical importance, it is not without ad 
hominem value, and, in addition, it may perhaps find more ready 
acceptance. For scientists as well as the average citizen can see clearly 
that there is nothing in laboratory methods that demands as an ideal the 
governmental suppression of religion. 

True, there is a "scientism," adopted by the Communists, that holds 
religion to be an opiate. This atheism would limit all aims and ideals to this 
world; there is no supernatural realm, no life after death, no future world. 

And since this is an absolute fixed truth, Commissars are justified in 
preventing parents from teaching religion to their children. But the 
argument that leads from a description of laboratory methods to the 
conclusion that secularism is desirable does not exist. 

Even if it could be shown - as indeed it cannot - that laboratory methods 
validly imply secularistic totalitarianism, the latter would not thereby 
become ideal. In such a case, many people would choose more freedom and 
less science. The physical discomforts of a pre-scientific society are minor 
in comparison with the spiritual torture of an inquisitorial bureaucracy. 

The gap between the premises of scientific method and the ideals which 
Dewey and Kilpatrick offer as conclusions is no less real, if a trifle less 
evident, in the case of health and transportation than in the case of 
religious liberty. Good health and speedy transportation have not been made 
desirable by any increase of scientific technique. They were not in the first 
place chosen as ideal because of any incipient scientific knowledge. 
Obviously science has done wonders in medicine and has increased the 
speed of transportation beyond the imagination even of Jules Verne; but 
science neither causes men to desire them nor causes them to be 
desirable. On the contrary, it is because men chose them as ideals that 
scientists began to look for means of securing them. 

Indeed, the more science is stressed as instrumental, the more evident it 
should be that it cannot establish ends or ideals. 

This is the second part of the concluding criticism. Scientific method can 
produce no ideals whatever. Science is instrumental. If a group of educators 
wish to extinguish religious liberty, a scientific attention to the details, and 
relationships of psychology, sociology, and politics will help them to their 
end. The same scientific technique can be used for the opposite purpose. 
The techniques of medicine can cure diseases that were usually fatal a 
century ago; but this same technical knowledge can just as easily be used 
to produce these diseases. In fact, cancer research at present is largely 
interested in producing cancer. But no instrumental technique, whether 
medical or political, can furnish any basis for deciding how to use it. 

Therefore, the contemporary humanist attempt to solve the problems of 
ethics by the application of scientific methods must, fortunately, be 
adjudged a failure. 

Since too this criticism engulfs previous secular theories, such as 
Utilitarianism, it seems to follow that a more sympathetic consideration 

ought to be given to divine revelation than is customary in the universities 
of our land. To a discussion of Christian ethics therefore, we now turn. 

Christian Ethics 

At the end of the first chapter it was said that solutions or conclusions 
can be based only upon definite premises. Scattered observations, mystical 
insights, and poorly defined generalizations make no logical appeal. The 
present volume, therefore, is based upon the truth of the Bible; and 
because of faulty interpretations and inconsistent formulations, the sense 
of the Bible is determined by the Westminster Confession. No apology is 
offered for this procedure; it seems only honest to state the premises of 
the argument. 

The Divine Legislator 

It will of course be universally admitted that the Bible presents God as 
the moral governor and judge of the world. The Bible contains commands, 
precepts, laws; warnings, assurances, exhortations; the threat of 
punishment and the promise of Heaven. For the present purpose, however, 
it is another of God's prerogatives that needs emphasis. Not only is God the 
governor and judge; prior to this he is the legislator. It is his will that 
establishes the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong; it is his 
will that sets the norms of righteous conduct. For those unfamiliar with the 
history of the subject, this thought must be somewhat developed. 

In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates asks the young man what is pious or right. 
After the usual confusion between example and definition is cleared up, 
Socrates elicits the answer that piety is that which is dear to the gods. 
Greek polytheism must worry with the possibility that the gods may 
disagree, but this part of the dialogue is not needed here. What is of 
permanent importance is Socrates' next question: Is an act holy and pious 
because it is dear to the gods, or is an act dear to the gods because it is 

At this point Plato's treatment of the difficulty becomes extremely 
instructive. Utilizing the inductive method common to the early dialogues, 
Socrates continues: We speak of being carried and of carrying, of being led 
and of leading, of being seen and of seeing; then too we conceive of being 
loved and of loving. Now, tell me, says Socrates, is a thing which is carried 
a carried thing because someone carries it, or does someone carry it 

because it is a carried thing? Again, is a thing which is seen a seen thing 
because someone sees it, or does someone see it because it is a seen 
thing? The answers of course are obvious. Similarly, a thing is loved or 
beloved because someone loves it; it is not loved because it is beloved. 

Here it may be better to quote exactly: 

What then shall we say about the pious, Euthyphro? You admit that it is a thing 
loved by all the gods, do you not? 


Is it loved by the gods because it is pious, or for some other reason? 

No; but for this reason. 

Therefore it is loved because it is pious; but it is not pious because it is loved. 

So it seems. 

But that which is dear to the gods and beloved of them is so because they love 

How could it be otherwise? 

Then it follows that that which is dear to the gods, my Euthyphro, is 
not the definition of piety. 

The remarkable thing about this conversation is the complete absence of 
argument on the essential point. Unlike the instances in the other dialogues, 
the induction here has no connection whatever with the conclusion. In fact, 
the induction, if carried out, would lead to exactly the opposite conclusion. 
Plato merely asserts that the gods love piety because it is piety. No 
reasons are given. He just could not imagine anyone's entertaining a 
different opinion. 

The conclusion is of course consistent with Plato's worldview. In the 
Timaeus, the Demiurge - the personal divinity who fashions this physical 
world out of chaotic Space - receives his plan of operation from an 
independently existing world of Ideas. The maker of the visible world is not 
the maker of these Ideas. Naturally Plato argued at length to establish the 
theory of Ideas, but their relationship to the personal divinity seems to 
have been decided upon from the time of the early dialogues. 

In Christianity, and even in Philo Judaeus, this is reversed. God is 
supreme, and any ideas that may be required are dependent upon what God 
wills to think. God is the legislator, and piety is determined by his 
preceptive decree. 

Ethics and Theology 

Before this Christian view is elucidated, one example of the Platonic 
position in modern form should be given to heighten the contrast. Immanuel 
Kant, although he did not accept the theory of Ideas, made it very clear 
that theology cannot serve as a basis for ethics. With his categorical 
imperative, he hoped to distinguish between a moral and an immoral act by 
a purely logical analysis of the maxim of the act. Ought a person, he asks, 
make a promise with the secret intention of breaking it? Is it permissible 
to make a promise solely for the purpose of avoiding a present 

Such questions are answered by an attempt to universalize the maxim 
involved. In this case the maxim would be: It is right to make a promise 
without intending to keep it so as to escape from a present 
embarrassment. Can this be universalized? Can this be made into a 
universal law without self-contradiction? No, says Kant, it cannot, because 
if everyone made insincere promises, these promises would no longer serve 
the purpose of avoiding embarrassment. No one would any longer be fooled 
by them. They work only on the assumption that they are sincere. 
Therefore, the maxim is self-contradictory or self-defeating. This for Kant 
is the criterion of right and wrong. He makes no appeal to divine 
commands, rewards, or punishments. 

On the contrary, while theology makes no contribution to ethics, ethics is 
a presupposition of theology. Just how seriously one should take Kant's 
theological assertions, and whether he believed in a personal God or not 
may be debatable; but if there is a theology, it would have to use ethics as 
its basis. A knowledge of God must be derived, if at all, from a knowledge 
of morality. 

Kant, of course, was not a Christian. But by reason of certain historical 
circumstances it has been possible for Christian writers to adopt a form of 
Kantianism or Platonism in their defense of Christianity. 

The historical circumstances are, briefly, the success of Christianity in 
the Western world. Its influence is pervasive and its moral teachings have 
been widely accepted. To such an extent has Christian morality been 
accepted as the ideal that writers have argued: Since Christian standards 
are the highest, the Christian religion must be true. The rightness of ethics 
proves the truth of the theology. This defense of Christianity against its 
enemies rests on the assumption of its moral excellence. 

But if the premise be denied, what happens to the apologetics? There 

may have been times and places in which no one would think of denying the 
excellence of Christian standards. Since, however, this has not been the 
case in China, for example, the argument could hardly have appeared 
convincing to the Chinese. Today China is much closer to us. Indeed there 
is no point in insisting on old heathen nations. English-speaking philosophers 
daily contest the excellence of Christian morality. It is not necessary to 
refer to Nietzsche - he wrote in German; the humanists discussed above 
are equally good examples. When this fact is acknowledged, then the 
argument from Christian ethics must be recognized as inverted. One cannot 
argue the truth of Christianity on the basis of its ethics; one must defend 
its ethics on the basis of its theological truth. The ethics is not a premise, 
but a conclusion. Theology is basic. 

No one with any Christian training would, I suppose, want to depreciate 
morality. Nevertheless, it is quite possible so to exaggerate its importance, 
so to misunderstand its relative place in philosophy, that only confusion 
both moral and theoretical can result. This overemphasis on morality, so it 
would seem, is an important contributory cause in the rise of modernism. 
The authority of conscience was insisted on, a moral consciousness was 
developed, ethical institutions were sought for. And as these aspects of 
human nature - indispensable as they are - were continually brought 
forward, they came to usurp the position of supreme judge. 

An interesting, instructive, and important example of this type of 
reasoning - taken from the heyday of its vigor - is found in Newman 
Smyth. r 161 After quoting a Puritan theologian who said, "Godliness, 
therefore, which is the practice of divine Truth, is the measure of all 
intellectual truths"; Smyth continues, perhaps beyond the intention of the 
Puritan, and says, 

Old theology is always becoming new in the vitalizing influence of 
ethics.... It is reason enough for doubting and for restudying any 
traditional teaching or received word of doctrine if it be felt to harass 
or to confuse the Christian conscience of an age. Nothing can abide as 
true in theology which does not prove its genuineness under the ever 
renewed searching of the Christian moral sense.... Still less can we 
allow in Christian ethics any dogmatic belief which would put in bonds 
the Christian ethical principle itself; as, for instance, the tenet that 
morality is dependent upon the divine will.... Christian ethics cannot 

consent to commit suicide in any supposed interest of theology. 

Newman Smyth's appeal to the observable facts of a Christian 
conscience leaves unanswered the difficulty of distinguishing a Christian 
from a non-Christian conscience. When this issue is raised, theology must 
enter as the decisive factor. Smyth's procedure is incapable of facing this 
issue because of his neglect of Biblical revelation. He must assume that 
somehow ethical norms can be distilled from conscience, failing to realize 
that these norms have never been accepted where the Biblical theology has 
not first been preached. And finally, his refusal to make the ethical principle 
itself dependent on the divine will puts him, in this respect at least, on the 
side of Plato and Kant. 

In opposition to all this, the Christian - i.e., the Biblical view - is that 
God is the legislator. Not Law, but the Lawgiver is supreme. 

Divine Sovereignty 

If then the personal God is supreme and all laws depend upon his 
ordinance, it follows that there is no superior law to restrict his 
sovereignty. Most people find it easy to conceive of God as having created 
or established physical law by divine fiat. He might have created a different 
kind of world, had he so desired. It does not seem to stretch the 
imagination much to picture a world where freezing points are so arranged 
that we would have to put water in the radiator to prevent the alcohol from 
freezing. And why could not lead, like water, expand on cooling? Nor does it 
bother some theologians to suppose that various details of the Mosaic ritual 
might have been different. Instead of requiring the priests to carry the ark 
on their shoulders, God might have forbidden this and ordered it to be borne 
on a cart drawn by oxen. But for some peculiar reason people find difficulty 
in applying the same consideration to ethics. Instead of recognizing God as 
sovereign in the moral sphere, they want to subject him to some 
independent, superior, Platonic law. This is inconsistent. 

Yet at this point some very conscientious persons raise an apparently 
serious objection to the view here outlined. If this view were true, they say, 
honesty might not be the best policy. If morality depends purely on God's 
ordinance, just as the laws of physics do, then possibly stealing would be 
right and right would be wrong. Nevertheless, the fact that we have become 
accustomed to given ethical standards is no reason for believing that God 

had to make the world that way. Even if our moral opinions are correct, it 
is no more a reason for so believing than our knowledge of physics is for 
putting God under the compulsion of physical laws. Certainly in this world 
honesty is best. But it is best precisely because God made the world that 
way. Anything God does is right, because he does it; and had we no 
knowledge of God we could not guess what sort of moral standards he 
might set up for some hypothetical world not now in existence. The reason 
we object to stealing or to any other sin is that we have learned that it is 
contrary to God's ordinance. We must learn God's plan first and develop our 
morality afterward. We must adjust our ethics to our theology, not vice 
versa. We must argue, not from our moral standards to the truth of the 
Bible, but from the truth of the Bible to the morality it upholds. 

A word of caution is needed here. This discussion has no particular 
bearing on the divine immutability. It was argued that God could have 
created a different physical world, had he so desired. Nothing was said, one 
way or the other, as to whether God could so desire. Possibly the 
immutability of purpose and the eternality of the decrees imply that this is 
the only possible world - a Calvinistic twist to a Spinozistic phrase. Yet if 
this is so, and if it is meaningless to suppose that God could think 
differently, the argument remains that morality as much as physics is what 
it is because God thinks this way. As the Puritans used to say, God's 
decree is simply God's decreeing. 

Before the minimum of Biblical evidence for this view is set down, it can 
well be noted that the discussion is not a dead echo from an ancient 
Platonic past. Nor was it ended by Kant and Newman Smyth. Quite the 
contrary, it is alive today and will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

A Contemporary Example 

Just one instance will be given. Dr. Edward John Carnell writes as 

If we cannot anticipate the character of God by using elements 
drawn from the moral and spiritual environment, then by the same 
token we have no way of judging the character of God's 
representatives, since this decision, though one step removed, involves 
the same difficulty. Unless we can meaningfully anticipate God's 
standards of rectitude, it may turn out that the book, the church, or 

priestly caste that is least moral on human standards is the most 
moral on divine standards; and we are once again left with 
skepticism. [17] 

This is the position against which the preceding argument has been 
directed. In one sense the quotation contains nothing essentially new. But in 
another respect there is something worth noting about it. It is the 
statement of a professed evangelical of the twentieth century. Now, 
however it might have been with sincere Christians of former ages, one 
writing today might be expected to take note how this point of view has so 
frequently been used to oppose Christianity. In fact, such was the intention 
of John Stuart Mill, whom Dr. Carnell actually praises a few pages 

Then, too, it was precisely by this method that Mary Baker Eddy sought 
to refute the doctrine of the atonement. Propitiation, which Dr. Carnell 
defends, seemed impossible to Mrs. Eddy. "Whoever believeth that wrath is 
righteous or that divinity is appeased by human suffering does not 
understand God" (Science and Health, chapter 2). Can this not fairly be 
paraphrased, whoever believes that wrath is righteous has not meaningfully 
anticipated God's standards of rectitude? 

Similarly, Edwin A. Burtt condemns Christ because Christ's morals are 
inferior to Burtt's humanistic socialism. 

The possibility that the book, the church, or the priestly caste that is 
least moral on human standards may be most moral on divine standards, is 
an objection without force. Consider a devout Hindu woman of the last 
century, who, with a conscience as void of offense as Paul's when 
persecuting the early church, was sacrificing her infant child to her heathen 
god. By all her human standards she was doing right, and it appeared to her 
that the omission of this duty would be irreligious. Finally a Christian 
missionary comes to her and tries to convince her that the book, the 
church, and the priestly caste that she considers most moral are not so, 
but that by divine standards what she thinks irreligious is right. What else 
could a missionary do? Is this then an objection against Christianity? 
Indeed it is to be expected that Christian morals will differ from what the 
natural man anticipates. 

Abraham, the Father of Us All 

To make a clear contrast between the Platonic objection and the Biblical 

position, and to give at least a minimum of direct Biblical support to God's 
sovereignty in ethics, no better example can be found than that of 
Abraham. Abraham has become a favorite subject of discussion in recent 
times. Sometimes he is used to prove the superiority of Sumerian culture 
over that of Canaan. Human sacrifice is supposed to have been transcended 
in Ur, but in ruder Canaan it was still practiced. Abraham, then, raised the 
culture of Canaan by not sacrificing Isaac. But if this were so, Abraham's 
initial willingness to sacrifice Isaac would be inexplicable. Combined or 
uncombined with this pagan sociological motif, other authors, among whom 
first is Kierkegaard, see a conflict between religion and ethics. One writer 

Obviously, God's command to Abraham that he sacrifice his only son 
was an immoral one, and it embarrasses not only the modern but also 
troubled Abraham. And if we regard the command simply as God's 
testing of Abraham and thus moralize the story, we have not faced the 
issue raised by God's immoral command and his approval of Abraham's 
obedience to it. 

Admittedly the writer quoted makes some statements in the sequel that 
modify to a degree the first impression of these sentences. But all such 
interpretations complicate the story of Abraham by reading into it elements 
that are not there. In particular, a conflict - a false conflict between 
religion and ethics - is produced by the presupposition that God's command 
to sacrifice Isaac was immoral. Where does the text make this assertion? 
It may be true that the Sumerians regarded human sacrifice as immoral, 
but the question is not one of Sumerian opinion. The question is, Was God's 
command immoral? 

The text itself tells us that God said to Abraham, "Take now your son, 
your only son Isaac, whom you love... and offer him there as a burnt 
offering on one of the mountains." Now, if Abraham had subscribed to the 
principles of Professor Carnell, if he had made theology subsidiary to ethics, 
if he had judged this command by an "anticipation" of God's standards of 
rectitude, he would have concluded that this suggestion was coming, not 
from God, but from Satan. If this were not the voice of Satan, if one could 
not anticipate the nature of divine commands, then the voice that is least 
moral by human standards might be the most moral by divine standards; 
and since this cannot be true, the command to sacrifice Isaac did not come 

from God. 

Abraham, of course, did not at all argue in this vein. On the contrary, he 
recognized that it was God's voice, and therefore he was prepared to obey, 
no matter what the command was. No doubt God had previously forbidden 
human sacrifice; and so long as that command remained in force, human 
sacrifice was a sin. But if now, for some undetermined period of time, God 
commands human sacrifice, then it becomes obligatory and right. No ethical 
standard formulated through empirical observation, no, not even a previous 
command of God himself, suffices for the repudiation of God's next 

This, however, does not mean that we are left with moral skepticism, as 
Dr. Carnell claims. We are left with the definite commands of God. We 
have his complete preceptive will in the Scriptures. Of course, if skepticism 
means that man without a supernatural revelation cannot establish the 
norms of morality, so be it. The analyses of the earlier sections are 
supposed to have clinched that conclusion. Neither Utilitarianism, nor Kant, 
nor Dewey can anticipate God's standards of rectitude. But the failure of 
non-revelational ethics does not leave man without a knowledge of right and 
wrong. If skepticism means that man can have no knowledge, then an 
appeal to revelation, with its subordination of ethics to theology, is not 
skepticism. But everything else is. 

[1] See A Christian View of Men and Things: On Utilitarianism and Kant, 
see chapter IV; on Brightman's theory of values, see chapter VI. See also 
William James and John Dewey. 

[2] The latest estimate on the number of Chinese killed by the Chinese 
Communist government is between 60 and 80 million. - Editor. 

[3] John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 252. 

[4] John Dewey, Logic, The Theory of Inquiry, 216. 

[5] John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 259. 

[6] Gardner Williams, Humanistic Ethics, 55. 

[7] John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy, 124, 126, 157. 

[8] John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy, 166-169. 

[9] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 97-98, 151-161. 

[10] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 286-289. 

[U] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 340. 

[12] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 405. 

[13] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 403, 54-55. 

[14] William Heard Kilpatrick, Philosophy of Education, 254. 

[15] See The Philosophy of John Dewey, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp, 592. 

[16] Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics, 1892, republished 1922. 

[17] Edward John Carnell, Christian Commitment, 142. 

God and Evil 

In the background of every religious worldview there stands a frightening 
spectre. An author may refrain from mentioning it; he may hope that his public 
will forget to think about it; but no position is complete and none can be 
unhesitatingly accepted until it makes a clear pronouncement on the problem of 

Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit 
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste 
Brought Death into the world, and all our woe .... 

Sing heavenly muse....m 

It is not, however, the sonorous phrases of a great poet nor even the 
inspiration of a Muse that we need. Careful thought, clean-cut definitions, 
and consistency to the end are the prerequisites of progress. The aim of 
this chapter is to face the question of evil squarely, without dodging, and to 
show that, whereas various other views disintegrate at this point, the 
system known as Calvinism and expressed in the Westminster Confession 
of Faith offers a satisfactory and completely logical answer. 

Historical Exposition 

To bring the matter into sharp focus and to set forth the main 
difficulties, a representative selection will be made from the discussions of 
history. In antiquity, evil was almost always viewed from the standpoint of 
some sort of religion; at the present time, God is more frequently left out 
of the picture. Although the presuppositions of this chapter are thoroughly 
theistic, something will be said of non-theistic views, if only to indicate 
that the problem of evil does not disappear with the acceptance of 

The problem, as it has usually been considered, is terrifyingly simple. 
How can the existence of God be harmonized with the existence of evil? 
There are plenty of evils. One of the Soviet secret police is quoted as 
boasting that he had so refined torture that he could break every bone in a 
man's body without killing him. And is there a God who looks down on this 
from on high? By those who were religiously inclined the enigma has been 
faced in fear and trembling; the irreligious - Voltaire, for example - with a 
cry of triumph have spat it forth like the poison of asps. But whatever the 
form, the issue is inescapable: How can the existence of God be reconciled 

with the existence of evil? 

In early Christian times Lactantius reports its prevalence. If God is good 
and wants to eliminate sin, but cannot, he is not omnipotent; but if God is 
omnipotent and can eliminate sin, but does not, he is not good. God cannot 
be both omnipotent and good. 

Although the Christian concept of God as omnipotent aggravates the 
difficulty, man's trouble with evil - his intellectual trouble with evil - did 
not begin with Christianity. Pain, disease, calamities, injustice, and woe 
have impressed people of every religion. Some religions, of which 
Zoroastrianism is one, concluded that the universe must be the work of two 
independent, conflicting deities. Neither the good god nor the evil god is 
omnipotent, and neither has as yet destroyed the other. On the surface, 
this seems to account for the mixture of good and evil in the world; but 
such ultimate and irreducible dualisms give rise to further riddles which 
many philosophers have thought equally insoluble. 

Plato in his Republic attempted to account for evil by the assumption 
that God is not the cause of everything, but only of a few things - few 
because our evils far outnumber our goods. In the Timaeus he was not 
quite so pessimistic, but he still held that there is an eternal and chaotic 
Space which the Demiurge cannot entirely control. To the end, therefore, it 
must be said, Plato retained an unreconciled dualism. 

Aristotle, because his philosophy is so completely irreligious, is 
somewhat an exception in antiquity. He conceived God in such a way that 
his relation to evil, or to the moral endeavors of men, hardly mattered. The 
Unmoved Mover is in a sense the cause of all motion, but instead of being 
an active cause, he causes motion by being the object of the world's desire. 
He exercises no voluntary control over history. Though he is constantly 
thinking, he does not seem to think about the world, or, at most, he knows 
only a part of the past and nothing whatever of the future. 

Naturally, the great Christian philosopher Augustine grappled with the 
difficulty. Under Neoplatonic influence he taught that all existing things are 
good; evil, therefore, does not exist - it is metaphysically unreal. Being 
non-existent, it can have no cause, and God therefore is not the cause of 
evil. When a man sins, it is a case of his choosing a lower good instead of 
a higher good. This choice too has no efficient cause, although Augustine 
assigns to it a deficient cause. In this way God was supposed to be 
absolved. Augustine, admittedly, was a great Christian and a great 

philosopher. Later in the chapter more will be said about him. But here he 
was at his worst. Deficient causes, if there are such things, do not explain 
why a good God does not abolish sin and guarantee that men always choose 
the highest good. 

This matter of evil is not an outmoded antiquity that evaporated with 
Zoroaster, Aristotle, or Augustine. The twentieth century cannot evade it. 
Therefore a few illustrations will be selected from contemporary writers. 
Today, however, much of the discussion is secular in nature. Ether religion 
is ignored, or, in some cases, Christianity is pointedly attacked. 

Lucius Garvin, John L. Mothershead, and Charles A. Baylis have each 
written a textbook on ethics. These books are fairly well known in 
American colleges today. Garvin has a very short section on theological 
ethics, with a conclusion that suggests that God is not particularly 
important; in the second textbook, the index has no entry at all for God; 
and in the third, it seems that God is mentioned on only one page. 
Nevertheless, secular ethics, although it will pay no attention to 
omnipotence, must still consider determinism and must say something 
about responsibility. An example of this type of thought will elucidate some 
details of the main argument as well as serve as part of an historical 

Professor Baylis of Duke University gives what many people will believe 
to be a very plausible argument. If determinism is true, he says, then a 
person's decisions reflect his character. The man's character causes and 
explains his actions. Accordingly, if we know the particular weaknesses of a 
man's character, we may be able - by praise, promises, threats, or 
punishments - to alter his character, improve the man, and so produce 
better decisions. Blame and punishment, therefore, which have the effect of 
reforming a person, are justifiable; but retributive punishment will not be 
justifiable, if determinism is true. The remote causes of a man's character 
are far in the past and were never under his control. Therefore he is not 
responsible for them, and therefore retributive punishment is illegitimate. 
Dr. Baylis further insists that indeterminism also renders retributive 
punishment illegitimate; and what is worse, indeterminism can provide only 
a dubious justification for corrective punishment. 

Another professor at Duke University furnishes an example of those who 
pointedly attack Christianity. The argument comes from An Introduction to 
the Philosophy of Religion, by Dr. Robert Leet Patterson. 

To refer evil to a corrupt human nature transmitted from Adam, 
Professor Patterson brands as "an odious doctrine which Pelagius, to his 
honor, anticipated modern liberals in rejecting" (218n3). Besides, there is a 
previous question. The author asks, "If it be as easy for God to create good 
men as to create evil men, why did not God create all men good?" (173). 
To suppose that God created the good and the evil for his own glory, to 
bestow his love on the good and his wrath on the evil, is to lower God to 
the level of the most degenerate human tyrant. Such an idea must be 
decisively rejected, for, the author insists (177), God cannot be thought of 
as immoral. Even if we believe, in the absence of all evidence, that every 
occurrence of evil is essential to the realization of a greater good, the fact 
that God could not produce the good without the previous evil indicates that 
God's power is limited (179). 

Today, then, as in the past, the existence of evil is a crucial question; 
and the answer frequently includes the idea of a limited deity. Many modern 
philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill, William Pepperell Montague, and 
Georgia Harkness, as well as the ancient Zoroaster and Plato, accept a 
finite god. But it must be clearly understood that this idea is incompatible 
with Christianity. The Bible presents God as omnipotent, and only on this 
basis can a Christian view of evil be worked out. 

The idea of a finite god, although it is a non-Christian expedient, has 
nonetheless a certain amount of merit by reason of its honesty. Professing 
Christians are not always so frank. In a certain Christian college the head 
of the Bible Department used to tell his students not to discuss the subject 
(indeed, this was rather clearly the policy of the institution), for the subject 
is controversial. It is also unedifying. And the professor should have added, 
it is embarrassing. For when some pointed questions were asked him, he 
grew irritated and replied, "I do not like the kind of questions you ask." 
Perhaps such colleges think that if evil is never mentioned, the students 
will never hear about it. They seem to forget that the secular enemies of 
Christianity will soon remind them and ask them controversial, unedifying, 
and embarrassing questions. Such an attitude of secrecy did not 
characterize the great Christian theologians: Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin. We 
may perhaps not agree with this one or that one, but like the modern 
secularists they were open and honest. Before we drop the idea of a finite 
god, however, there is one interesting consideration to mention. If the 
mixture of good and evil in the world rules out the possibility of a good and 

omnipotent God, and if the extent of good in the world hardly allows the 
assumption of an infinite evil demon, it still does not follow that there is a 
finite good God. A finite evil god is an equally acceptable conclusion. 
Instead of saying that God does the best he can, but being limited he 
cannot quite eliminate the evil in the world, we could just as well say that 
God does the worst he can, but being limited he cannot quite eradicate the 
forces of good which oppose his will. Evidently, therefore, the advocates of 
a finite god arrive at their conclusion more by emotion than by reason. 

Free Will 

Because of God's omniscience, most probably, Augustine recognized that 
the metaphysical unreality of evil and the supposition of deficient causes 
were inadequate to dispose of the difficulties. Accordingly, he added a 
theory of free will. From pagan antiquity, through the middle ages, on down 
into modern times, free will has doubtless been the most popular solution 
offered for the problem of evil. God is all-powerful, many people will say, 
but he has adopted a hands-off policy and allows men to act apart from 
divine influence. We choose, and we choose evil, of our own free wills; God 
does not make us do so; therefore, we alone are responsible, and not God. 

This theory of free will must now be carefully examined. Is it a 
satisfactory theory? Do its proponents have an unambiguous concept of its 
chief term? Is it true that the will is free? And if it is true, does free will 
solve the problem of evil? 

Augustine's formulation of the theory of free will, like many other of his 
views, did not remain unaltered. In his pagan life he had been a 
Manichaean; he had accepted an ultimate dualism of good and evil. After 
his conversion, although he had a brilliant mind, he did not immediately see 
the implications of the Biblical assertions so clearly as he did later in life. 
It took time even for Augustine to develop. 

His early view of free will seems to be that all men are completely 
untrammeled in their decisions. Anyone can as easily choose this as that. 
Neither divine grace nor any other force determines a man in either 
direction. In his work on Free Will, he begins by wondering how it is 
possible for all souls, seeing that they commit sin, to have come from God 
without referring those sins back to God. In other words, if God created 
souls which are now sinful, is not God responsible for sin? And to go 
further, "I ask whether a free will itself, by which we are proved to have a 

power to sin, should have been given us by him who made us. For it is 
clear that if we were without free will we would not sin; and in this way it 
is to be feared that God may be adjudged the author of our evil doing."[2] 

To avoid this conclusion, the explanation (or at least a part of it), is that 
without free will we could as little do good as evil. A being, such as a stone 
or perhaps a bug, that cannot do evil is equally incapable of doing good. The 
ability to do good or evil is one, and God is not to blame if man uses his 
freedom wrongly. Free will may indeed do wrong, but there is no right 
action without it. Even sin does not justify the assertion that it were better 
if sinners did not exist. There must be all grades of being in the world. 
Variety is essential. Even a soul that perseveres in sin is better than any 
inanimate body that cannot sin because it has no will. 

One must pause, however. From the metaphysical assumption that being 
is better than non-being, does it follow that a sinner is better off than a 
stone? What would Augustine have said if he had remembered Christ's 
statement, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born'? 
Such questions come to mind, but the exposition of Augustine's views must 

So far it would seem that free will is the property of all men. The very 
possibility of doing either good or evil requires it. But toward the end of the 
book Augustine introduces a thought which he expands in his later writings. 
Noting that men now inevitably sin and cannot avoid it, he says, "When we 
speak, then, of the will free to do right, we speak of the will in which man 
first was made." [3] Thus it appears that no one now has a free will. 

In the City of God (XXII, xxx), Augustine makes this point clearer. Adam 
had free will in the sense that he was able not to sin. This presumably is 
the popular notion of free will. Most people seem to mean by it that a man 
is just as able to will one thing as its opposite. He is free, they say, 
because he can choose to obey or to disobey God's commands. But by the 
time that Augustine wrote the City of God he had learned enough about the 
Bible, and about men too, to know that in this age it is impossible for 
anyone not to sin. Sin is inevitable. Therefore the ability to do good or evil 
is not one. Though the unregenerate do evil, they cannot do good. In the 
future, when our redemption shall have been completed and we are glorified 
in Heaven, another impossibility will appear. There we shall be unable to 
sin. Again the ability to do good or evil is not one, for though we shall do 
good, we shall not be able to do evil. There are thus three stages in the 

total human drama: before the fall, posse non peccare (possible not to sin); 
and in the world to come, non posse peccare (not possible to sin); but in 
this present world, non posse non peccare (not possible not to sin). Adam, 
therefore, was the only man who ever had free will - free will in the usual 
sense of the term. 

The phrase free will, however, had such attractive connotations that 
Augustine did not wish to limit it to Adam. Hence he immediately 
continues, "Is God himself in truth to be denied free will because he cannot 
sin?" Augustine assumes that everyone will want to call God free. One may 
ask the same question also about the righteous angels. But if God and the 
angels have free will, free will must be re-defined so as to consist with a 
denial that two incompatible actions are equally possible. Free will must be 
made consistent with inevitability and therefore will no longer bear its 
common meaning. 

Later writers also have made a point of the fixed and determined felicity 
of the future state, and it might be worth a parenthetical paragraph to 
pause for a reference to the Puritan John Gill. In The Cause of God and 
T ruth he writes, 

God is a most free agent, and liberty in him is in its utmost perfection, and yet 
does not lie in an indifference to good and evil; he has no freedom to that which is 
evil... his will is determined only to that which is good; he can do no other... and 
what he does, he does freely and yet necessarily.... The human nature of Christ, 
or the man Christ Jesus, who, as he was born without sin and lived without it all his 
days on Earth, so was impeccable, could not sin. He lay under some kind of 
necessity fulfill all righteousness; and yet he did it most freely and 
voluntarily: which proves that the liberty of mank will... is consistent with some 
kind of necessity.... The good angels, holy and elect, who are confirmed in the 
state in which they are... cannot sin or fall from that happy state, yet perform 
their whole obedience to God, do his will and work cheerfully and willingly.... In 
the state of glorification the saints will be im peccable, cannot sin, can only do that 
which is good, and yet what they do, or will do, is and will be done with the 
utmost freedom and liberty of their wills; whence it follows that the liberty of 
man’s will. consistent both with some kind of necessity and a determination to 

This effectively disposes of Augustine's early contention that one must 
be able to sin in order to do anything good; it also leaves free will in a 
dubious condition. 

In this material from Augustine and John Gill two important points 
emerge. The first is that the Bible does not teach the equal possibility of 
two incompatible choices. Even if some perverse misinterpreter should still 
contend that the ability to do good or evil is one, the meaning of the denial 
is plain and unambiguous. The second point that emerges from the 
preceding discussion is, however, a matter of ambiguity. Free will has been 
defined as the equal ability, under given circumstances, to choose either of 
two courses of action. No antecedent power determines the choice. 
Whatever motives or inclinations a man may have, or whatever 
inducements may be laid before him that might seem to turn him in a 
certain direction, he may at a moment disregard them all and do the 
opposite. This definition or description, however, is what the present writer 
believes to be the common notion of free will. It is not the definition found 
in Augustine or John Gill. Indeed these two writers do not give a formal 
definition of free will. Strange though it may seem to a logician, many 
writers do not define their terms with great care; and the reader is 
unfortunately left to guess at the meaning. An Arminian reading The Cause 
of God and Truth might very well wonder what its author could possibly 
mean by liberty and freedom. Nor would his perplexity be entirely 
unjustified. The Puritan speaks of a will that is both free and determined; 
he refers to actions that are done freely, yet necessarily; and he concludes 
that the liberty of a man's will is consistent with at least some kind of 
necessity and determination. But the Arminian reader feels himself almost 
necessitated to judge that this makes no sense. Are not necessity and 
freedom incompatible? Is it remotely possible that both could be attributed 
to the same action, choice, or will? 

The explanation, of course, lies in the fact that the Arminian has a 
different notion of freedom from that of John Gill. And perhaps he is 
unaware that in the history of philosophy, freedom of choice has been 
defined in several different ways. One should never suppose that a phrase 
or a term means the same thing in every book in which it occurs. Each 
author chooses the meaning he desires, and each reader ought to try to 
determine what that meaning is. To be sure, the author ought not to try to 
make this task difficult, and Gill and others of his day should have said 
more clearly what they meant. Strict definitions and strict adherence to 
them are essential to intelligible discussion. If one contender has one idea 
in mind - or perhaps no clear idea at all, while the other party to the 

debate entertains a different notion, or is equally vague - the result of the 
conversation is bound to be complete confusion. This is the elementary 
lesson that Socrates taught in the fifth century before Christ, but many 
people have not learned it yet. 

In accord with common opinion, the phrase free will shall here henceforth 
be used to indicate the theory that a man faced with incompatible courses 
of action is as able to choose any one as well as any other. It may be 
necessary in quoting previous authors to use the phrase in another sense, if 
they so used it; but the argument of this chapter will restrict the phrase 
free will to the above definition. This is done in the belief that no Arminian 
will object. He can make no accusation that his case is prejudged by a 
surreptitious introduction of a Calvinistic element into the chief term. Free 
will is defined with all the freedom that any Arminian could desire. 

It might seem that here is the proper place to ask the question, Does 
man have a free will? Is it true that his choices are not determined by 
motives, by inducements, or by his settled character? Can a person resist 
God's grace and power and make an uncaused decision? However, these 
questions will not be answered here. They will be discussed later. The next 
step in the argument is a slightly different one. Let us assume that man's 
will is free; let us assume that these questions have been answered in the 
affirmative; it would still remain to be shown that free will solves the 
problem of evil. This then is the immediate inquiry. Is the theory of free 
will, even if true, a satisfactory explanation of evil in a world created by 
God? Reasons, compelling reasons, will now be given for a negative answer. 
Even if men were as able to choose good as evil, even if a sinner could 
choose Christ as easily as he could reject him, it would be totally irrelevant 
to the fundamental problem. Free will was put forward to relieve God of 
responsibility for sin. But this it does not do. 

Suppose there were a lifeguard stationed on a dangerous beach. In the 
breakers a boy is being sucked out to sea by the strong undertow. He 
cannot swim. He will drown without powerful aid. It will have to be 
powerful, for as drowning sinners do, he will struggle against his rescuer. 
But the lifeguard simply sits on his high chair and watches him drown. 
Perhaps he may shout a few words of advice and tell him to exercise his 
free will. After all, it was of his own free will that the boy went into the 
surf. The guard did not push him in nor interfere with him in any way. The 
guard merely permitted him to go in and permitted him to drown. Would an 

Arminian now conclude that the lifeguard thus escapes culpability? 

This illustration, with its finite limitations, is damaging enough as it is. It 
shows that permission of evil as contrasted with positive causality does 
not relieve a lifeguard from responsibility. Similarly, if God merely permits 
men to be engulfed in sin of their own free wills, the original objections of 
Voltaire and Professor Patterson are not thereby met. This is what the 
Arminian fails to notice. And yet the illustration does not do full justice to 
the actual situation. For unlike the boy who exists in relative independence 
of the lifeguard, in actuality God made the boy and the ocean, too. Now, if 
the guard - who is not a creator at all - is responsible for permitting the 
boy to drown, even if the boy is supposed to have entered the surf of his 
own free will, does not God - who made them - appear in a worse light? 
Surely an omnipotent God could have either made the boy a better 
swimmer, or made the ocean less rough, or at least have saved him from 

Not only are free will and permission irrelevant to the problem of evil, 
but, further, the idea of permission has no intelligible meaning. It is quite 
within the range of possibility for a lifeguard to permit a man to drown. 
This permission, however, depends on the fact that the ocean's undertow is 
beyond the guard's control. If the guard had some giant suction device 
which he operated so as to engulf the boy, one would call it murder, not 
permission. The idea of permission is possible only where there is an 
independent force, either the boy's force or the ocean's force. But this is 
not the situation in the case of God and the universe. Nothing in the 
universe can be independent of the omnipotent Creator, for in him we live 
and move and have our being. Therefore the idea of permission makes no 
sense when applied to God. 

Such subterfuges must in all honesty be renounced. Consider two 
quotations from Calvin: 

Here they recur to the distinction between will and permission, and insist that 
God permits the destruction of the impious, but does not will it. But what reason 
shall we assign for his permitting it, but because it is his will? It is not probable, 
however, that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, without 
any appointment, of God; as though God had not determined what he would 
choose to be the condition of the principal of his creatures. I shall not hesitate 
therefore to confess plainly with Augustine, “that the will of God is the necessity 
of things, and that what he has willed will necessarily come to pass.” 

God is very frequently said to blind and harden the reprobate, and to turn, 
incline, and influence their hearts, as I have elsewhere more fully stated. But it 
affords no explication of the nature of this influence to resort to prescience or 
permission.... For the execution of his judgments, he, by means of Satan, the 
minister of his wrath, directs their counsels to what he pleases and excites their 
wills and strengthens their efforts. Thus when Moses relates that Sihon the king 
would not grant a free passage to the people, because God had “hardened his 
spirit and made his heart obstinate,” he immediately subjoins the end of Godk 
design: “That he might deliver him into thy hand.” Since God willed his 
destruction, the obduration of his heart therefore was the divine preparation for 
his ruin.r5j 

Thus the futility of free will is established. Some other theory must be 
sought. And in the production of that theory it will become evident that free 
will is not only futile but false. Certainly, if the Bible is the Word of God, 
free will is false; for the Bible consistently denies free will. Therefore, the 
attempt will now be made to explain evil on the basis of historic 

Reformation Theology 

So far this chapter has stated the paradox or antithesis between an 
omnipotent good God and the existence of evil. If free will cannot resolve 
the difficulty, one must turn to the opposite theory of determinism. At 
first, determinism, instead of alleviating the situation, seems to accentuate 
the problem of evil by maintaining the inevitability of every event; and not 
only the inevitability, but also the further and more embarrassing point that 
it is God himself who determines or decrees every action. 

Some Calvinists prefer to avoid the word determinism. For some reason 
it seems to them to carry unpleasant connotations. However, the Bible 
speaks not only of predestination, usually with reference to eternal life, but 
it also speaks of the foreordination or pre-determination of evil acts. 
Therefore, deliberate avoidance of the word determinism would seem to be 
less than forthright. This will be discussed still further later on. At the 
moment, however, there is a preliminary question. Do the opposing views, 
free will and determinism, form a complete disjunction? 

The former holds that no human choice is determined; the latter that all 
are. Is there not a third possibility? Could it not be that some events or 
choices are determined and some are not? Such a third possibility, however, 
could contribute nothing to this discussion. Aside from the peculiarity of 

assigning a semi-sovereignty to God and to man a semi-free will, the crux 
of the conflict lies in choices that cannot be split in half. Could Judas have 
chosen not to betray Christ? If he could have chosen not to betray Christ, 
his moral responsibility is established, says the Arminian; but, says the 
Calvinist, prophecy in such a case could have proved false. Or, again, could 
Pilate have decided to release Jesus? Are we prepared to say that God 
could not make sure of the necessary events in his plan of redemption? 
Besides, the Bible explicitly says, "Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the 
Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever 
your hand and your purpose determined before to be done" (Acts 4:27-28). 
Here in these individual choices moral responsibility is pitted against the 
success of God's eternal plan of redemption. There is therefore no use in 
supposing some choices free and others determined. The Scriptures say 
that this one choice was determined ahead of time, and the whole 
theological and philosophical issue is found complete in this one choice. 

It seems unnecessary to draw the contrast in any sharper terms. All the 
elements are before us: free will, determinism, moral responsibility, 
prophecy, and divine sovereignty versus a finite god. What is now necessary 
consists of three points which will provide the outline for the remainder of 
the chapter. First, some extensive explanation and argument in defense of 
Calvinism must be given; second, a definitive and official statement of the 
position should be provided; and third, a few historical assertions are 
demanded by the widespread ignorance of the twentieth century. These 
three points will be taken up in reverse order. 

The low educational level of the present day, even among college people, 
was brought home to the present writer when he was asked to give an 
account of Calvinism to a group of students in a so-called Christian college. 
The talk was nothing more than the simplest and most elementary 
exposition of the famous five points. But at the end it became clear, with 
respect to the middle three - i.e., unconditional election, limited atonement, 
and irresistible grace - not only that the students had never heard of such 
doctrines before, but that they were shocked that any professing Christian 
could possibly believe them. For two or three hundred years after the 
Reformation there was hardly a place or a section of the people in any of 
the Protestant nations that did not have a rudimentary knowledge of 
Calvinism. They may not all have believed the doctrines, but at least they 
had heard them preached. In the twentieth century, however, Christian 

knowledge has sunk to a very low level. Calvinism, of course, is not totally 
extinguished, but many people who think of themselves as educated 
Christians have never heard of it. 

Today, therefore, we must insist that irresistible grace and divine 
determination were solid articles of the Reformation faith. Nor was it the 
Reformers who first discovered them. 

Augustus M. Toplady, the author of that most beloved of all hymns, Rock 
of Ages, also wrote a good-sized volume on the Historic Proof of the 
Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England. A few pages later, he will be 
mentioned again more definitely with the main point of his book as stated 
in its title. But here attention is called to his long introductory section in 
which he shows that Calvinism was not unknown either in the patristic 
period or in the middle ages. 

Toplady believed that the epistle of Barnabas was actually written by 
Barnabas. If he is mistaken in this belief, the epistle is a still more 
noteworthy testimony to the doctrinal character of the subapostolic age. 
The following quotation seems to reflect the idea of irresistible grace and 
would therefore be inconsistent with free will: "When Christ chose his own 
Apostles who were to preach his gospel, he chose them when they were 
wickeder than all wickedness itself..." According to the same author, 
Christ's death was necessary because it was prophesied. And there is a 
fairly clear statement of limited atonement: "Let us rest assured, that the 
Son of God could not have suffered but for us." To the same effect he 
imagines Christ answering a question with the words, "I am to offer up my 
flesh as a sacrifice for the sins of the new people." A certain Menardus, 
commenting on this passage, complains that Barnabas was here mistaken 
because Christ did not die for a new people but for the whole world. The 
comment only emphasizes what Barnabas actually meant. A further 
negative note on free will is found in the words, "We.. .speak as the Lord 
wills us to speak. For that end he both circumcized our ears and our hearts 
that we might understand these things. "[6] 

Clement of Rome makes some very definite statements: 

It being the will of God that all his beloved ones should be made partakers of 
repentance, he has established them firmly by his own Almighty purpose. 

By the word of his Maj esty he has established all things. ... Who shall say unto 
him. What have you done? Or who shall resist the might of his power? He has 
done all things at what season he pleased, and in what manner he pleased; and not 

one of the things which have been decreed by him shall pass away. All things are 
open to his view, nor has anything absconded from his will and pleasured?! 

Ignatius begins his Epistle to the Ephesians, "Ignatius... predestinated 
ever, before time, unto the glory which is perpetual and unchangeable, 
united and chosen... by the will of the Father." He introduces his Epistle to 
the Romans with the words, "Enlightened by the will of him who has willed 
all things." And in opposition to free will he says, "A Christian is not the 
workmanship of suasion, but of greatness [power]." [8] 

Perhaps it is better known, at least by these who have read some 
medieval history, that the martyr Gottschalk was a strong Calvinist. 
Speaking of the reprobate Jews he says, "Our Lord perceived that they were 
predestinated to everlasting destruction, and were not purchased with the 
price of his blood. 'T9] After twenty-one years of imprisonment and torture 
at the hands of Bishop Hincmar for his belief in double predestination, he 
died ad 870. 

Less well known is a contemporary of Gottschalk, Remigus, Archbishop 
of Lyons. He wrote, 

Nor is it possible for any one elect person to perish, or that any of the 
reprobate should be saved, because of their hardness and impenitency of heart.... 
Almighty God did, from the beginning, prior to the formation of the world, and 
before he had made any thing, predestinate... some certain persons to glory, of 
his own gratuitous favor.... Other certain persons he has predestinated to 
perdition... and of these, none can be saved. lTOI 

The Waldensians were a group whose origin Toplady puts early in the 
middle ages. He quotes from their Confession of 1508: "It is manifest that 
such only as are elected to glory become partakers of true faith." 

A hundred years before the Reformation, Jan Hus said, "Predestination 
does make a man a member of the universal Church.. ..God wills that the 
predestinate shall have perpetual blessedness, and the reprobate to have 
eternal fire. The predestinate cannot fall from qrace/ Tlll Obviously there 
is no free will here. 

If Hus was burnt for the Gospel, John of Wesalia was tortured because 
he held that "God has, from everlasting, written a book, wherein he has 
inscribed all his elect; and whosoever is not already written there will never 
be written there at all. Moreover, he that is written therein will never be 
blotted out of it.' T 12] 

After these continental Calvinists, Toplady turns to pre-Reformation 

Englishmen. Venerable Bede said, "When Pelagius asserts that we are at 
liberty to do one thing always [i.e., to do good], seeing we are always able 
to do both one and the other [i.e., we have free will], he herein contradicts 
the prophet, who, humbly addressing himself to God, says, 'I know, 0 Lord, 
that a man's way is not his own; it is not in man that walks to direct his 
own steps. " T 131 

Thomas Bradwardine, the teacher of John Wycliffe, wrote, 

What multitudes, O Lord, at this day, join hands with Pelagius in contending 
for free will and in fighting against thy absolutely free grace.... Some more 
haughty than Lucifer, ...dread not to affirm, that, even in a common action, their 
own will walks first, as an independent mistress, and that thy will follows after, 
like an obsequious handmaid.... [T]he will of God is universally efficacious and 
invincible, and necessitates as a cause. It cannot be impeded, much less can it be 
defeated and made void, by any means whatever. r 14] 

His pupil, John Wycliffe (ad 1320? - 1384), similarly declared, "In what 
way soever God may declare his will by his after-discoveries of it in time: 
still, his determination, concerning the event, took place before the world 
was made; ergo, the event will surely follow. The necessity, therefore, of 
the antecedent, holds no less irrefragably for the necessity of the 

Dr. Peter Heylin, an Arminian historian, admits that William Tyndal "has a 
flying-out against free will" and taught that from predestination "it 
springeth altogether whether we shall believe or not believe, be loosed from 
sin or not be loosed; by which predestination our justifying and salvation 
are clear taken out of our hands and put into the hands of God only." The 
Arminian with his free will does not want his salvation put into the hands 
of God only. 

Patrick Hamilton's sentence of death read: "We, James, by the mercy of 
God, Archbishop of St. Andrews, primate of Scotland, have found Master 
Patrick Hamilton many ways inflamed with heresy.. .that man hath no free 
will. "[15] 

The struggles of these loyal exponents of the Gospel of free grace 
culminated in the Protestant Reformation. At the Council of Trent, the 
Roman Church officially repudiated the doctrines that put salvation into the 
hands of God only. Rome chose free will and human merit. Luther and 
Calvin continued the apostolic teaching. In our present century of ignorance, 
one must insist that Luther as well as Calvin rejected the Pelagian-Romish- 

Arminian view of man. It was Erasmus, the man who drew back from the 
Reformation and made his peace with Rome, who defended free will. The 
book that Luther wrote in reply to him is titled The Bondage of the Will. In 
its Conclusion there is this sentence: "For if we believe it to be true that 
God foreknows and foreordains all things, that he can neither be deceived 
nor hindered in his prescience and predestination, and that nothing can take 
place but according to his will. ..then there can be no free will in man, in 
angel, or in any creature." 

While the later Lutherans - under Phillip Melanchthon's compromising 
spirit, which went so far as to seek reunion with Rome - abandoned many 
of Luther's doctrines, it must be remembered that these matters were not 
in dispute among Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, nor among Ridley, Cranmer, 
Latimer, Bucer, Zanchius, and Knox. The same is true of the victims of 
Bloody Mary. Richard Woodman, who was burned at the stake with nine 
other martyrs at Lewes in Sussex, answered his examiners: "If we have 
free will, then our salvation cometh of ourselves: which is a great 
blasphemy against God and his Word." Richard Gibson, examined by the 
Bishop of London, was called upon to profess that "a man hath by God's 
grace a free choice and will in his doing." Gibson denied the proposition and 
was burned to death with two others in Smithfield. Thirty-four persons 
were persecuted and expelled from the towns of Winston and Mendelsham, 
because "they denied man's free will and held that the Pope's church did 
err." If more evidence is desired for the Calvinism of the Reformation, 
there is an abundance of it in the history books and in the original writings 
of these faithful men. 

In the non-Lutheran world the Reformation faith was first adulterated by 
Arminius, who, influenced by Melanchthonian Lutheranism, rejected the 
Reformed view of free grace and retreated to a more Romish or semi- 
Pelagian position. The Synod of Dordt in 1618 condemned Arminius as a 
corrupter of the faith, though it did not rise to the explicit heights of the 
Westminster Assembly thirty years later. It is the latter's Confession that 
is the highwater mark of Protestantism. No other creed is so detailed and 
so true to the Scriptures. Therefore the present day reader is requested to 
give exact attention to a quotation from the Westminster Confession. 
Though some circumscribed souls may be astonished, this is what 
Christianity is. 

Chapter Three 
Of God's Eternal Decree 

I. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own 
will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as 
thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the 
creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but 
rather established. 

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all 
supposed conditions, yet has he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as 
future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. 

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and 
angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to 
everlasting death. 

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are 
particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and 
definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. 

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the 
foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose 
and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, has chosen in Christ unto 
everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of 
faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the 
creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of 
his glorious grace. 

VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has he, by the eternal and 
most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, 
they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are 
effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are 
justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. 
Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, 
sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. 

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable 
counsel of his own will, whereby he extends or withholds mercy as he pleases, 
for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain 
them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice. 

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with 
special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his 

word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their 
effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine 
afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, 
diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel. 

This official statement of the original Protestant position, of the original 
apostolic faith, concludes this historical section. The next step is to give 
some of the arguments that support Calvinism and to apply these 
considerations to the problem of evil. 

Gill’s Exegesis 

Although the Westminster Confession is the most detailed of all creeds, 
it is still not a philosophic treatise. It is not a theodicy. It does not answer 
objections. It is only a summary of the Biblical position. In this respect, 
and so far as exegesis goes, Arminianism cannot compete. Not to suppose 
that the Westminster divines were the only men who saw these teachings 
in the Bible, one may refer again to John Gill's The Cause of God and Truth. 
The first two parts of that work examine with great care more than a 
hundred passages which Arminians had used in opposition to Calvinism. 
Gill's exegesis is devastating. 

Since the approximately 150 pages, double columns, of fairly dense type, 
cannot be reproduced here, one example alone will be chosen. It is a verse 
which, according to Gill, was frequently quoted by the Arminians of his day, 
but quoted incorrectly, and which has been several times used against the 
present writer: "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and 
stone them that are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your 
children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and 
you would not!" (Matthew 23:37). 

Concerning this verse John Gill observes, 

Nothing is more common in the mouths and writings of the Arminians than 
this Scripture, which they are ready to produce on every occasion against the 
doctrines of election and reprobation, particular redemption, and the irresistible 
power of God in conversion; and in favor of sufficient grace and of free will and 
power in man; though to very little purpose, as will appear when the following 
things are observed. 

1. That by Jerusalem we are not to understand the city, nor all the inhabitants, 
but the rulers and governors of it, both civil and ecclesiastical, especially the great 
Sanhedrin, which was held in it, to whom best belong the descriptive characters of 
killing the prophets and stoning such as were sent to them by God, and who are 

manifestly distinguished from their children; it being usual to call such who were 
the heads of the people, either in a civil or ecclesiastical sense, fathers, Acts 7:2, 
and 22: 1, and such who were subjects and disciples, children, 19:44, Matthew 
12:27, Isaiah 8:16, 18. Besides, our Lord’s discourse, throughout the whole 
context, is directed to the Scribes and Pharisees, the ecclesiastical guides of the 
people, and to whom the civil governors paid a special regard. Hence it is 
manifest, that they are not the same persons whom Christ would have gathered, 
who would not. It is not said, How often would I have gathered you, and ye 
would not, as Dr. Whitby more than once inadvertently cites the text; nor, he 
would have gathered Jerusalem and she would not, as the same author 
transcribes it in another place; nor, he would have gathered them, thy children, 
and they would not, in which form it is also sometimes expressed by him; but I 
would have gathered thy children, and ye would not, which observation alone 
is sufficient to destroy the argument founded on this passage in favor of free 

5. That in order to set aside and overthrow the doctrines of election, 
reprobation, and particular redemption, it should be proved that Christ, as God, 
would have gathered, not Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof only, but all 
mankind, even such as are not eventually saved, and that in a spiritual saving way 
and manner to himself, of which there is not the least intimation in this text; and in 
order to establish the resistibility of God’s grace, by the perverse will of man, so 
as to become of no effect, it should be proved that Christ would have savingly 
converted these persons, and they would not be converted; and that he bestowed 
the same grace upon them he does bestow on others who are converted; whereas 
the sum of this passage lies in these few words, that Christ, as man, out of a 
compassionate regard for the people of the Jews, to whom he was sent, would 
have gathered them together under his ministry, and have instructed them in the 
knowledge of himself as Messiah; which, if they had only notionally received, 
would have secured them as chickens under the hen from impending judgments 
which afterwards fell on them; but their governors, and not they, would not, that 
is, would not suffer them to be collected together in such a manner, and hindered 
all they could, their giving any credit to him as the Messiah; though had it been 
said and they would not, it would only have been a most sad instance of the 
perverseness of the will of man, which often opposes his temporal as well as his 
spiritual good. 

On the ground of exegesis, therefore, Calvinism has nothing to fear; but 
further development of the doctrine, the integration of one phase with 

another, the application to the problem of evil, and the replies to objections 
are left in the hands of theologians and philosophers of religion rather than 
with exegetes or creedal assemblies. And it may be granted that John Gill's 
theological elucidations, by reason of incomplete expression, absence of 
definition, failure to foresee later scientific theories, and even quirks of his 
own reasoning, are not always so successful as his exegesis of Scripture. 

For example, when Dr. Whitby - John Gill's opponent - charges the 
Calvinists with implying that God intends to damn the wicked (and certain 
other matters that Dr. Whitby finds offensive), it is not sufficient to reply 
with Gill that the Calvinists do not make these assertions. For, first, 
possibly some of them do; and, second, even if no Calvinist made these 
assertions, Dr. Whitby's horrors might be valid, though hitherto 
unrecognized, implications from Calvinistic principles. A theologian is 
therefore under obligation to answer the charge of inconsistency in such a 
case, even though Dr. Whitby is himself many times more inconsistent. We 
shall pass then from exegesis to theological discussion. 


Not only does free will fail to relieve God of culpability, and permission 
fail to coexist with omnipotence, but the Arminian position can find no 
logical position for omniscience either. A Romanist-Arminian illustration is 
that of an observer on a high cliff. On the road below, to the observer's 
left, a car is being driven west. To the observer's right a car is coming 
south. He can see and know that there will be a collision at the intersection 
immediately beneath him. But his foreknowledge, so the argument runs, 
does not cause the accident. Similiarly, God is supposed to know the future 
without causing it. 

The similarity, however, is deceptive on several points. A human observer 
cannot really know that a collision will occur. Though it is unlikely, it is 
possible for both cars to have blowouts before reaching the intersection and 
swerve apart. It is also possible that the observer has misjudged the 
speeds, in which case one car could slow down and the other accelerate, so 
that they would not collide. The human observer, therefore, does not have 
infallible foreknowledge. 

No such mistakes can be assumed for God. The human observer may 
make a probable guess that the accident will occur, and this guess does not 
make the accident unavoidable; but if God knows, there is no possibility of 

avoiding the accident. A hundred years before the drivers were born, there 
was no possibility of avoiding the accident. There was no possibility that 
either one of them could have chosen to stay home that day, to have driven 
a different route, to have driven a different time, to have driven a different 
speed. They could not have chosen otherwise than as they did. This means 
either that they had no free will or that God did not know. 

Suppose it be granted, just for the moment, that divine foreknowledge, 
like human guesses, does not cause the foreknown event. Even so, if there 
is foreknowledge, in contrast with fallible guesses, free will is impossible. 
If man has free will, and things can be different, God cannot be omniscient. 
Some Arminians have admitted this and have denied omniscience, but this 
puts them obviously at odds with Biblical Christianity. There is also another 
difficulty. If the Arminian or Romanist wishes to retain divine omniscience 
and at the same time assert that foreknowledge has no causal efficacy, he 
is put to it to explain how the collision was made certain a hundred years, 
an eternity, before the drivers were born. If God did not arrange the 
universe this way, who did? 

If God did not arrange it this way, then there must be an independent 
factor in the universe. And if there is such, one consequence and perhaps 
two follow. First, the doctrine of creation must be abandoned. A creation ex 
nihilo would be completely in God's control. Independent forces cannot be 
created forces, and created forces cannot be independent. Then, second, if 
the universe is not God's creation, his knowledge of it - past and future - 
cannot depend on what he intends to do, but on his observation of how it 
works. In such a case, how could we be sure that God's observations are 
accurate? How could we be sure that these independent forces will not 
later show an unsuspected twist that will falsify God's predictions? And, 
finally, on this view God's knowledge would be empirical, rather than an 
integral part of his essence, and thus he would be a dependent knower. 
These objections are insurmountable. We can consistently believe in 
creation, omnipotence, omniscience, and the divine decree. But we cannot 
retain sanity and combine any one of these with free will 1161 
Responsibility and Free Will 

Free will, however, was introduced into the picture for very definite 
reasons. Since it is so at variance with basic Christian doctrines, there 
must have been exceptionally strong inducements for taking refuge in it. 
These are the necessity of maintaining human responsibility for sin and of 

preserving the righteousness of God. The Arminian may be willing to admit 
that his view faces difficulties; but, he asks, can the Calvinist offer a 
better escape? It is all well and good to show the conflict between 
omnipotent creation and free will, but what about the conflict between 
determinism and morality? Is it not better to take a strong stand for 
morality and responsibility, even if we degrade God to a finite level, than to 
defend omnipotence so as to undermine human morality and divine 
holiness? In other words, since God cannot be both omnipotent and good, is 
it not better to admit a finite god? 

Perhaps one quotation may be allowed to document the dependence of 
free will on the motive of responsibility, but before that is done, let it be 
noted that there is no other motive. Could it be shown that man's 
responsibility does not presuppose free will, theology would be freed from 
all this confusion. No longer would one be required to hold half-heartedly to 
one set of self-contradictory doctrines rather than to a second set of 
equally contradictory doctrines. Nor would one be compelled to disguise the 
obvious contradictions by the false piety of calling them mysteries. The 
remainder of the argument will attempt to show that neither human 
responsibility nor divine holiness requires free will. But first the quotation 
just alluded to: 

Throughout the whole history of philosophy and theology people have 
wrangled over the question of free will. In general, the idealistic philosophies 
have asserted that the human spirit must be in some sense free, while 
materialistic philosophies have denied this freedom. Theology has clung 
tenaciously to the belief that man is a “free moral agent” while at the same time 
often asserting a doctrine of predestination which, taken at its face value, would 
rigidly circumscribe man’s acts. The problem, though complex, is too 
fundamental to be dodged. 

We have seen that the possibility of moral or immoral action depends on the 
power of choice. If all one’s acts are set and predetermined (either by the 
structure of the material world or by the will of God) in such fashion that it is 
impossible to act other than one does, quite obviously freedom disappears. With 
the power of voluntary choice goes moral responsibility. One cannot consciously 
choose to be good, nor choose to seek after God, unless he has the power to 
choose not to do so. No moral quality attaches to my failure to steal the million 
dollars that is outside my reach, but stealing becomes a moral question with me 
when I have to decide whether to tell the store clerk he has given me too much 

change. Likewise if I am “foreordained” to be saved or damned there is not 
much use of my doing anything about my fate. If I have no freedom, I am not 
responsible for my acts. 

Theological determinism, or predestination, is a cardinal doctrine of 
Mohammedanism. Islam means “submission” (to the will of Allah) and a 
Moslem is “one who submits” to the fatalistic decrees of an arbitrary deity. 
Christian theology in its earlier forms regarded God as equally peremptory 
(though more ethical) in his decrees. Through the influence of illustrious Christian 
theologians, notably Paul, Augustine, and Calvin, the doctrine of predestination 
has profoundly influenced Christian thinking. While God’s omnipotence has thus 
been emphasized, Godk freedom has been exalted at the expense of mank, and 
the most inhuman acts have been glossed over as arising from the will of God. 
But happily the doctrine of predestination is disappearing, at least in its application 
to evils that are obviously preventable. 

Some still hold that when the typhoid victim dies from lack of proper 
sanitation, it happened because it was “to be.” There is a good deal of illogical 
comfort in such a view. But not many, even of the most rigorous of Calvinists, 
would now say that if a man gets drunkand shoots his family, it is the will of God 
that he should do so. IT 71 

The Will of God 

This quotation shows clearly the moral motivation behind the theory of 
free will; but at the same time it shows so much muddleheadedness, 
misstatement of facts, and fallacious innuendo that before the argument 
proceeds, one preliminary should be put out of the way. I wish very frankly 
and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it 
was the will of God that he should do so. The Scriptures leave no room for 
doubt, as was made plain before, that it was God's will for Herod, Pilate, 
and the Jews to crucify Christ. In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God 
works all things, not some things only, after the counsel of his own will. 
This is essential to the doctrine of creation. Before the world was made, 
God knew everything that was to happen; with this knowledge he willed 
that these things should come to pass. Only if God had been willing could 
this world, or any world, in all its details, have been brought into existence. 

The opponents may at this point claim that Calvinism introduces a self- 
contradiction into the will of God. Is not murder contrary to the will of 
God? How then can God will it? 

Very easily. The term will is ambiguous. The Ten Commandments are 

God's preceptive will. They command men to do this and to refrain from 
that. They state what ought to be done; but they neither state nor cause 
what is done. God's decretive will, however, as contrasted with his 
precepts, causes every event. It would be conducive to clarity if the term 
will were not applied to the precepts. Call the requirements of morality 
commands, precepts, or laws; and reserve the term will for the divine 
decree. These are two different things, and what looks like an opposition 
between them is not a self-contradiction. The Jews ought not to have 
demanded Christ's crucifixion. It was contrary to the moral law. But God 
had decreed Christ's death from the foundation of the world. It may seem 
strange at first that God would decree an immoral act, but the Bible shows 
that he did. This point will be discussed more fully later on; but though it 
may now seem strange, it should be clear at least that a clear definition of 
terms by which two different things are not confused under one name 
removes the charge of self-contradiction. 

When the term will is used loosely there is also a second distinction that 
must be made. One may speak of the secret will of God, and one may 
speak of the revealed will of God. Those who saw self-contradiction in the 
previous case would no doubt argue similarly on this point too. The 
Arminian would say that God's will cannot contradict itself, and that 
therefore his secret will cannot contradict his revealed will. Now, the 
Calvinist would say the same thing; but he has a clearer notion of what 
contradiction is, and what the Scriptures say. It was God's secret will that 
Abraham should not sacrifice his son Isaac; but it was his revealed will 
(for a time), his command, that he should do so. Superficially this seems 
like a contradiction. But it is not. The statement or command, "Abraham, 
sacrifice Isaac," does not contradict the statement, at that moment known 
only to God, "I have decreed that Abraham shall not sacrifice his son." If 
Arminians had a keener sense of logic, they would not be Arminians! 


Confusion sometimes borders on ridicule. To come one step nearer to the 
question of human responsibility, another phrase from the opponents begs 
for analysis. Among many others, Professor Stuart C. Hackett charges that 
Calvinistic determinism reduces men to mere puppets. 

Professor Hackett is engaged in resurrecting the theism of the 
cosmological argument. In this endeavor he opposes a theory called 

presuppositionalism on the ground that it is based on a previously adopted 
theological position. This of course is what the present book has done; 
these chapters have presuppositions and attention has been called to them; 
but Professor Hackett's apparent inference is that such a procedure should 
be avoided. Yet, strange to say, his final and clinching reason for rejecting 
presuppositionalism is, "Thus the presuppositionalist approach lands one in 
an extreme Calvinistic atmosphere. If one feels comfortable there, let him 
remain with this God who has created rational men as mere puppets of his 
sovereignty / T 181 

Here there are two points. The minor point is that Professor Hackett in 
arguing against presuppositionalism adopts his own presuppositions. Of 
course, his presuppositions are Arminian, but even so he has not escaped 
presuppositionalism. The major point, however, is that Calvinism is 
supposed to reduce men to puppets. 

Such an objection could arise only upon an ignorance of Puritan writings. 
Perhaps the objector has seen a chapter in the Westminster Confession "On 
Free Will"; or he may have read in the Shorter Catechism that our first 
parents were left to the freedom of their own wills; then, without reading 
the literature of that day, he assumes that official Calvinism is more 
moderate than the view defended here, and that a denial of free will is 
hyper-Calvinism. A creed, however, is not a detailed philosophic treatise, 
and its phrases must be understood in the sense in which the authors 
meant them. If this meaning is not clear from the creedal context itself, it 
must be sought in the literature. 

Now, the Westminster Confession indeed speaks of the natural liberty of 
man's will. The first paragraph of Chapter IX is: "God has endued the will 
of man with that natural liberty that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute 
necessity of nature, determined to good or evil." 

These phrases could seem to be accommodations to the theory of free 
will, but they can seem so only because the meaning of the phrase 
"absolute necessity of nature" has been mistaken. The Reformation 
Principles, a part of the standards of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, 
makes a clearer statement when it condemns as an error the view that 
man "is necessarily impelled to choose or act as an unconscious machine." 
Even the earlier seventeenth-century phrases must have seemed 
unambiguous when they were written, for they were chosen against the 
background of a century of discussion. They are certainly to be taken in a 

sense consistent with the Confession's chapter on the divine decree. Here 
again the Reformation Principles is quite clear, for the immediately 
following error denounced is "that he can will or act independently of the 
purpose or the providence of God." If the meaning of these phrases has 
been forgotten by some present-day writers, the remedy lies in reading the 
discussion of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

First, some material again from John Gill will be put in evidence. Gill is 
chosen particularly because he was not a Presbyterian. It needs to be 
recalled that these ideas were not limited to the Presbyterians. For Gill's 
extended context, see The Cause of God and T ruth, Part III. 

The actions of glorified saints, he says, are done in obedience to the will 
of God; these acts proceed from the saints freely, though their wills are 
immutably determined so that they can never do otherwise - sin is 
impossible in Heaven. By these phrases Gill shows that the term freely is 
consistent with immutable determinism. 

That action, he says again, which is voluntarily committed against the 
law of God is blameworthy, though the will may be influenced and 
determined to it by the corruption of nature; because sin is no less sinful 
because man has so corrupted his way that he cannot do otherwise. Thus 
Gill connects responsibility with volition or will, but the will is not a free 
will because the man cannot do otherwise. 

In opposing the materialistic philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, John Gill 
states that the question is whether all agents and events are predetermined 
extrinsically without their own concurrence in the determination. The 
dispute with Mr. Hobbes, he continues, is not about the power of the will to 
do this or that, but about the natural liberty of the will. This line of 
argument makes the natural liberty of the will to consist in its freedom 
from extrinsic or materialistic causes. Hobbes, if anyone does, makes man 
a puppet, because man's actions are completely determined by physico- 
chemical causes. This is, of course, one form of determinism, but it has 
never been Calvinistic determinism; and to charge against Calvinism what 
may no doubt be properly charged against Hobbes only shows ignorance of 
the Calvinistic position. 

More at length, John Gill says that the necessity we contend for, that the 
will of man lies under, is a necessity of immutability and infallibility with 
respect to the divine decrees - which have their necessary, unchangeable, 
and certain event: All which is consistent with the natural liberty of the 

will. We say that the will is free from a necessity of coaction and force 
and from a physical necessity of nature, such as that by which the Sun, 
Moon, and stars move in their course. 

Although this has not been a continuous, verbatim quotation, the 
phraseology is Gill's; and as it is very instructive, it should be strictly 
noted. The natural liberty of the will consists in a freedom from physical 
necessity. Choice is not determined as the planetary motions are. Physical 
or mechanical determinism, expressible in differential equations, is 
applicable only to inanimate objects; but there is a psychological 
determinism that is not mechanical or mathematical. The Calvinist 
repudiates the former but accepts the latter. Hence he may without 
inconsistency deny free will and yet speak of a natural liberty. 

Later on, when discussing Stoicism, Gill notes that Augustine did not care 
for the connotation of the term Fate, but that he had no objection to the 
thing itself. And Gill adds, we agree with the Stoics when they assert that 
all things that happen are determined by God from eternity. Some of the 
Stoics were very careful to preserve the natural liberty of the will, as we 
are; for example, Chrysippus taught that the will was free from the 
necessity of motion. 

John Gill was a Baptist. In order further to avoid dependence on 
Presbyterian sources and to show that these are the doctrines of 
Protestantism, a few lines will be taken from the enthusiastic Anglican, our 
previous friend, Augustus Toplady - now as a theologian rather than as an 
historian. The first reference comes at the end of section eight of his 
history. To the sentence, "Calvinism disclaims all compulsion, properly so 
called," he appends a footnote in which he defines compulsion as taking 
place "when the beginning or continuing of any action is contrary to the 
preference of the mind.... In the supernatural agency of grace on the heart, 
compulsion is quite excluded, be that agency ever so effectual; since the 
more effectually it is supposed to operate, the more certainly it must 
engage 'the preference of the mind.'" The footnote continues on this theme 
for several more lines. 

Space forbids the reproduction of a great amount of material, but one 
further reference may be taken from Toplady. In a work titled The Scheme 
of Christian and Philosophical Necessity Asserted, there are the following 

Let us, he says, by defining as we go, ascertain what free agency (in 

opposition to free will) is. All needless refinements apart, free agency, in 
plain English, is neither more nor less than voluntary agency. Now, 
necessity is to be defined as that by which whatever comes to pass cannot 
but come to pass, and can come to pass in no other way than it does. I 
acquiesce, says Toplady, in the old distinction - adopted by Luther and by 
most of, not to say all, the sound Reformed divines - between a necessity 
of compulsion and a necessity of infallible certainty. The necessity of 
compulsion is predicated of inanimate bodies and even of reasonable beings 
when they are forced to do or suffer anything contrary to their will and 
choice. The necessity of infallible certainty, on the other hand, renders the 
event inevitably future, without any compulsory force on the will of the 
agent. Thus Judas was a necessary though voluntary actor in that 
tremendous business. 

It would be well to read the entire treatise, but enough has been 
indicated to enable us to come closer to our conclusion. In the theological 
literature, free agency - or natural liberty - means that the will is not 
determined by physical or physiological factors. But free agency is not free 
will. Free will means that there is no determining factor operating on the 
will, not even God. Free will means that either of two incompatible actions 
are equally possible. Free agency goes with the view that all choices are 
inevitable. The liberty that the Westminster Confession ascribes to the will 
is a liberty from compulsion, coaction, or force of inanimate objects; it is 
not a liberty from the power of God. 

Perhaps the matter can be made clearer by stating in other words 
precisely what the question is. The question is, Is the will free? The 
question is not, Is there a will? Calvinism most assuredly holds that Judas 
acted voluntarily. He chose to betray Christ. He did so willingly. No question 
is raised as to whether or not he had a will. What the Calvinist asks is 
whether that will was free. Are there factors or powers that determine a 
person's choice, or is the choice causeless? Could Judas have chosen 
otherwise? Not, could he have done otherwise, had he chosen; but, could he 
have chosen in opposition to God's foreordination? Acts 4:28 indicates that 
he could not. The Arminians frequently talk as if the will and free will were 
synonyms. Then when Calvinism denies free will, they charge that men are 
reduced to puppets. Puppets, of course, are inanimate dolls mechanically 
controlled by strings. If the opponents had only read the Puritans, if they 
only had known what Calvinism is, they could have spared themselves the 

onus of making this blunder. 

Choice and necessity are therefore not incompatible. Instead of 
prejudging the question by confusing choice with free choice, one should 
give an explicit definition of choice. The adjective could be justified only 
afterward, if at all. Choice then may be defined, at least sufficiently for the 
present purpose, as a mental act that consciously initiates and determines 
a further action. The ability to have chosen otherwise is an irrelevant 
matter and has no place in the definition. Such an ability could only be 
argued after the definition has been made. We cannot permit the Arminians 
to settle the whole matter simply by selecting a definition. A choice is still 
a deliberate volition even if it could not have been different. 

Appeal to Ignorance 

In fact, it is not possible to know that it could have been different, for 
we are unconscious of our limitations. The opponents frequently rest their 
case for free will on their own consciousness of freedom. It seems 
immediately and introspectively clear to them that their choices are 
uncaused. But such a view assumes that they would be conscious of 
causality, if there were any. To see that this is not the case, one may try 
to specify the conditions under which a man could know that he had a free 

We observe in children and sometimes in adults atypical forms of 
conduct that we ascribe to fatigue (the child is fussy because he has 
missed his nap) or to nervous strain (the adult blows his top or takes to 
alcohol). The individuals in question are acting voluntarily and may well 
believe that their choices are uncaused. We know better. We know what the 
causes are, and we know that they do not recognize them. Although it is 
easy to see this in the case of other people, there is a tendency to overlook 
the fact that the same is true of ourselves. We usually assume that 
nothing is affecting our own will, just because we are not conscious of the 
causality. But how could we be sure that there is no cause? What 
conditions would have to be met before we could know that nothing is 
determining our choices? Not only would we have to eliminate the 
possibility of fatigue and nervous strain, but we would have to eliminate 
other factors that are neither so easily examined after we think of them 
nor so easily thought of in the first place. There are minute physiological 
conditions beyond our usual or possible range of attention. Some incipient 

disease may be affecting our minds. There are also external meteorological 
factors, for admittedly unpleasant weather is depressing. And can we be 
sure that a sunspot, whose existence we do not suspect, leaves us 
unaffected? Even though the will is not mechanically determined, these 
external conditions as well as our physiology seem to alter our conduct to 
some extent. More important than physiology and astronomy is psychology. 
May there not be some subconscious jealousy that motivates our reactions 
to other people? Why do we eat chocolate sundaes when we know that we 
should reduce? Are we free from the influence of parental training? The 
Scriptures say, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is 
old he will not depart from it." Parental training and all education proceed 
on the assumption that the will is not free, but can be trained, motivated, 
and directed. Finally, beyond both physiology and psychology there is God. 
Can we be sure that he is not directing our choices? Do we know that we 
are free from his grace? The Psalm says, "Blessed is the man whom you 
choose and cause to approach you." Is it certain that God has not caused 
us to choose to approach him? Can we set a limit to God's power? Can we 
tell how far it extends and just where it ends? Are we outside his control? 

The conclusion is evident, is it not? In order to know that our wills are 
determined by no cause, we should have to know every possible cause in 
the entire universe. Nothing could be allowed to escape our mind. To be 
conscious of free will therefore requires omniscience. Hence there is no 
consciousness of free will; what its exponents take as consciousness of 
free will is simply the unconsciousness of determination. 

This disposes of those trivial examples in which we are told that the 
choice between cherry pie and apple pie is totally uncaused. Such cases do 
not do justice to the gravity of the subject. If, however, examples are 
requested, one might take Luther's choice: Here I stand, so help me God, I 
can do no other. With the greater consciousness of the issues involved 
comes a lesser assurance that an alternative is possible. 

Responsibility and Determinism 

Yet Luther was responsible for his choice, necessary though it was. Free 
will is not the basis of responsibility. In the first place, and at a more 
superficial level, the basis of responsibility is knowledge. The sinfulness of 
the Gentiles, as stated in the first chapter of Romans, could be charged to 
them because - although they did not like to retain God in their knowledge 

- they did not entirely succeed in their attempt to forget him; throughout 
their sinning they still knew the judgment of God that they which commit 
such things are worthy of death. This knowledge no doubt is an innate 
knowledge; it did not come from the Scriptures, but is the remains of the 
original image of God in which he created man. To the same effect is Luke 
12:47, "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare 
himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But 
he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be 
beaten with few." 

The explanation of responsibility, however, goes deeper than knowledge. 
Indeed, if we take responsibility in its fullest extent, and if we admit that 
we are made guilty in virtue of the first sin of our federal head, Adam, it 
follows that our responsibility is not ultimately based on our choice at all. 
Romans 5:17 reads, "by one man's offense death reigned through the one," 
and the passage goes on (verse 19) to say, "as by one man's disobedience 
many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience will many be 
made righteous." In conformity with the Scriptures, the Westminster 
Confession declares, "They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this 
sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, 
conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary 
generation" (VI, iii). Responsibility, therefore, must be so defined as to 
make room for imputation, as well as to account for our everyday voluntary 

It is strange that theological literature has made so little attempt to 
define responsibility. It is a lack found among determinists and 
indeterminists alike. Admittedly some statements about responsibility are 
found, even some true statements; but not every true statement is a 
definition. Once again, if we knew precisely what we were talking about, 
our confusion might prove avoidable. 

Now, the word responsibility looks as if it has to do with making a 
response. Or, accountability is to give an account. A man is responsible if 
he must answer for what he does. Let us then define the term by saying 
that a person is responsible if he can be justly rewarded or punished for his 
deeds. This implies, of course, that he must be answerable to someone. 
Responsibility presupposes a superior authority that rewards and punishes. 
The highest authority is God. Therefore responsibility is ultimately 
dependent on the power and authority of God. 

Is it just then for God to punish a man for deeds that God himself 
"determined before to be done'? Was God just in punishing Judas, Herod, 
Pontius Pilate, and the others? The Scriptures answer in the affirmative and 
explain why. Not only is God the creator of the physical universe, not only 
is he the governor and judge of men, he is also the moral legislator. It is 
his will that establishes the distinction between right and wrong, between 
justice and injustice; it is his will that sets the norms of righteous conduct. 
Most people find it easy to conceive of God as having created or 
established physical law by divine fiat. He might have created a world with 
a different number of planets, had he so desired. Nor does it bother some 
theologians to suppose that God could have made different ceremonial 
requirements. Instead of commanding the priests to carry the ark on their 
shoulders, God might have forbidden this and ordered them to put it on a 
cart drawn by oxen. But for some peculiar reason, people hesitate in 
applying the same principle of sovereignty in the sphere of ordinary ethics. 
Instead of recognizing God as sovereign in morals, they want to subject 
him to some independent, superior, ethical law - a law that satisfies their 
sinful opinions of what is right and wrong. 

Calvin avoided any such inconsistent and un-Biblical position. In the 
Institutes he says, 

how exceedingly presumptuous it is only to inquire into the causes of the 
divine will, which is in fact, and is justly entitled to be, the cause of every tiling 
that exists. For if it has any cause, then there must be something antecedent on 
which it depends; which it is impious to suppose. For the will of God is the highest 
rule of justice, so that what he wills must be considered j ust, for this very reason, 
because he wills it. When it is inquired therefore why the Lord did so, the answer 
must be, Because he would. But if you go further and askwhy he so determined, 
you are in search of something greater and higher than the will of God, which 
can never be found . \ 191 

God is sovereign. Whatever he does is just, for this very reason: Because 
he does it. If he punishes a man, the man is justly punished; and hence the 
man is responsible. This answers the form of argument which runs: 
Whatever God does is just; eternal punishment is not just; therefore, God 
does not so punish. If the one who argues thus means that he has received 
a special revelation that there is no eternal punishment, we cannot deal 
with him here. If, however, he is not laying claim to a special revelation of 
future history but to some philosophic principle which is intended to show 

that eternal punishment is unjust, the distinction between our positions 
becomes immediately obvious. Calvin has rejected the view of the universe 
which makes a law, whether of justice or of evolution, instead of the 
Lawgiver, supreme. Such a view is similar to Platonic dualism which posited 
a world of Ideas superior to the divine Artificer. God in such a system is 
finite or limited, bound to follow or obey the independent pattern. But those 
who hold to the sovereignty of God determine what justice is by observing 
what God actually does. Whatever God does is just. What he commands 
men to do or not to do is similarly just or unjust. 

Distortions and Cautions 

The arguments so far adduced are more than sufficient for the solution 
of the main problem. Further considerations could make the exposition 
more complete and might remove from inexperienced minds a number of 
distortions and objections that frequently present themselves. Calvinism 
undoubtedly stimulates many misapprehensions, although the reason for 
their frequency, as has already been seen in the discussion on puppets, is 
not a point in which Arminians can take pride. At the same time, Calvinists 
acknowledge that they themselves have a responsibility to forestall such 
misapprehensions so far as possible. The Westminster Confession and 
other Reformed creeds urge caution - not so much in opposing free will, for 
the Reformers were outspoken in their championship of grace in opposition 
to free will - but in preaching the doctrine of election and the divine decree. 
This does not condone those professors in Bible Departments who, 
supposing that they know better than God what should be revealed, demand 
that the doctrine of the divine decree should be suppressed in silence. But 
it does require that the Scriptural passages be clearly exegeted, that the 
doctrine should be logically integrated with the rest of God's revelation, and 
that at least the main objections should be squarely answered. 

A recent volume, Divine Election by G. C. Berkouwer, is largely motivated 
by the pastoral concern to protect the congregation from the uncertainties 
and fear of a harsh presentation of election, predestination, and related 
themes. Professor Berkouwer is a theologian of great erudition. His volume, 
The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth, is a triumph of 
scholarship. Similarly, The Conflict with Rome is a masterpiece. The book 
under discussion also evidences a wealth of knowledge; its doctrine is 
unmistakably Calvinistic; and yet some of its hesitations and fears seem to 

be unfounded. Most of the dangers that he mentions have no doubt actually 
occurred, as in the writings of a certain Snethlage whom he mentions; 
these dangers could possibly be more common in Holland than in the United 
States; but so far as the present writer's experience goes, it would seem 
that the greater and far more common dangers are those of an opposite 

For one thing, Berkouwer thinks that it is necessary to deny that 
Calvinism is deterministic. The word determinism apparently carries some 
evil connotation in his mind. Unfortunately Berkouwer never clearly defines 
determinism. Between the lines we may gather that determinism for him 
automatically makes all differences within God's predetermination relative 
and unimportant (180), so that preaching becomes useless (220). There are 
of course various types of determinism, atheistic and mechanical as well 
as theistic and teleological. This, however, is a poor reason for avoiding the 
word determinism. On the contrary, a uniform avoidance of this term might 
suggest to the congregation that the pastor does not really believe that God 
controls every event; and this unfortunate result would surely be more 
serious than any mistake arising from the word determinism. Sinful human 
nature is much more apt to deny or to circumscribe God's authority in 
favor of human independence than it is to exaggerate the power of God. 
Pastoral caution and care, therefore, lead rather in the opposite direction. 

Berkouwer also cautions against ascribing absolute power to God, against 
asserting God's superiority to all law, and against calling his decisions 
arbitrary. In each case, however, there is a sense in which these terms can 
be used of God as well as a sense in which they are objectionable. Perhaps 
Occam's idea of absolute power is not correct, yet Berkouwer admits that 
there is no law superior to God and that in this sense God is indeed "Ex- 
lex." When discussing the parable of the employer who paid his laborers the 
same wage regardless of the time they worked, Berkouwer says that this 
was not "arbitrary" - it was "good." So it was; but Berkouwer's concern 
seems centered more on words than on their meaning. 

Berkouwer also shows himself to be suspicious of the concept of 
causality, largely because the idea of cause tends to "a metaphysical 
determinism which leaves no room for variation and differences but which 
subsumes everything under the one causality of God." f201 This is an empty 
objection if ever there was one; and the discussion leaves much to be 
desired, because Berkouwer admits that "it is inherently difficult to give 

any answer that in itself would be transparent to reflective and reasonable 

"On the one hand, we want to maintain the freedom of God in election, 
and on the other hand, we want to avoid any conclusion which would make 
God the cause of sin and unbelief ."[21] 

Berkouwer, in spite of his Calvinism and his many truly fine statements 
of the Reformed position, is so embarrassed by his imaginary difficulties 
that once he even stumbles into what I take to be an historical blunder. He 
writes, "What Jacobs says of Calvin - that in his preaching and 
commentaries the election of God is repeatedly discussed, while rejection is 
not mentioned, can be said with as much validity of the Reformed 
confessions / T221 This sentence in its context seems to mean that the 
Reformed confessions do not even mention reprobation. This is not true; 
and we hope that Berkouwer intended to say something else but merely 
failed to express it clearly. That the ostensible meaning, however, is not 
true is undeniable. Earlier in this chapter a part of the Westminster 
Confession was quoted, and the reader's attention is again called to the 
third, fourth, and seventh sections of chapter three. 

It is not by a strained analysis of the concept of causality that 
Berkouwer can avoid calling God the cause of sin or can contribute to the 
prevention of misapprehensions. There are indeed two mistaken conclusions 
that should be guarded against - not so much for the purpose of protecting 
Calvinistic congregations from anxiety and insecurity, as Berkouwer 
believes - but in order to save Arminians from the blunders they have 
fallen into. In connection with the clause, God is the cause of sin, 
something yet needs to be said about causality; and, second, something 
needs to be said about God's holiness. 

Berkouwer had complained that the attempt to explain the divine decree 
in terms of causality prevented the acknowledgment of differences and 
variations within the divine decree and therefore eliminated these 
distinctions in the historical process. Even though Berkouwer admits that 
there are two types of causality, he still concludes that "every discussion 
of causality fails, must fail. "[23] 

The question is slightly complex. One part of it has to do with the 
necessity of means, or secondary or proximate causes. God does not do 
everything - he hardly does anything - immediately. For this reason the 
Westminster Confession, to which Berkouwer pays insufficient attention, 

has a phrase about secondary causation. 

It is human nature, depraved human nature, to attempt to avoid 
responsibility for wrongdoing. In seeking to excuse himself for an evil act, a 
man may assign the blame to his tempter, as Adam and Eve did, or to 
compelling and extenuating circumstances, or to something else more 
remote and ultimate. The insincerity of this procedure becomes apparent 
when we notice that men do not try to avoid praise and honor by referring 
their good acts to ultimate causes. They wish to escape blame, but they 
are willing, only too willing, to accept compliments. The Christian view, 
however, is clearly expressed in David's great confession. David did not 
complain, I have sinned a great sin, but alas, I was born sinful and could 
not help it; so, do not blame me too much. On the contrary, David said, I 
have sinned a great sin; and what makes it all the worse is that I was born 
that way; I could not help it, for I myself am evil. Repentant David placed 
the blame, not on his mother, nor on Adam, nor on God, even though all of 
these are causes in the chain of causation leading to his sin. Repentant 
David placed the blame on the immediate cause of his act - himself. The 
doctrine of creation, with its implication that there is no power independent 
of God, does not deny but rather establishes the existence of secondary 
causes. To suppose otherwise is unscriptural, and to avoid the notion of 
causality is illogical. 

Berkouwer's contention that an original, all inclusive, universal decree of 
causation removes other distinctions is also untenable. He is afraid that the 
principle of causality would conflict with the very Scriptural position that 
guilt is the judicial ground of condemnation. Now, this is an important 
factor, a most important factor for pastoral caution. The majority of 
people, both inside and outside the church, are immersed in practical 
details, and their vision seldom rises to more general theological principles. 
They need the point emphasized that God condemns people for their sins. 
In particular, evangelistic endeavor cannot omit the fact of sin. But 
Calvinism does not make any such omission. Nor is there any 
inconsistency. The doctrines of election and reprobation do not conflict with 
the fact that God's punishment is visited on no one who is not a sinner. 
The sinner deserves his punishment because he is evil and has done evil. 
No innocent person suffers. To be sure, Calvinism also insists that there 
are no innocent persons, except Christ of course. All are dead in sin. 
Salvation is a free, unmerited gift. Sin alone has merited wages, and those 

wages are death. All this, Calvinism proclaims without compromise. There 
is nothing in the divine decree that is inconsistent with acknowledging sin 
as the judicial ground of punishment. Berkouwer's claim that the concept of 
cause removes particularities from the divine decree is therefore untenable. 

There are admittedly other details whose discussion might obviate 
various misunderstandings. To consider them all, even if they were not 
repetitious, would require a length and minuteness incompatible with the 
present plan. There is, however, one extremely important topic that cannot 
be omitted. Does the view here defended make God the cause and author of 
sin? Berkouwer asks this question also, and so has everyone else. 

Let it be unequivocally said that this view certainly makes God the cause 
of sin. God is the sole ultimate cause of everything. There is absolutely 
nothing independent of him. He alone is the eternal being. He alone is 
omnipotent. He alone is sovereign. Not only is Satan his creature, but every 
detail of history was eternally in his plan before the world began; and he 
willed that it should all come to pass. The men and angels predestined to 
eternal life and those foreordained to everlasting death are particularly and 
unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it 
cannot be either increased or diminished. Election and reprobation are 
equally ultimate. God determined that Christ should die; he determined as 
well that Judas should betray him. There was never the remotest possibility 
that something different could have happened. 

Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in Heaven and in Earth [Psalm 135:6], 
All the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing; he does according to his 
will in the army of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the Earth. No one can 
restrain his hand or say to him, “What have you done?’ [Daniel 4:35], 

I form the light and create darkness, I mate peace and create evil; I, the Lord, 
do all these things [Isaiah 45:7], 

The Lord has made all things for himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of 
evil [Proverbs 16:4], 

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has resisted 
his will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?... Does not the 
potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to mate one vessel for 
honor and another for dishonor? [Romans 9:19-21], 

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God [Romans 11:22], 

One is permitted to ask, however, whether the phrase "cause of sin" is 
the equivalent of the phrase "author of sin." Is the latter phrase used to 

deny God's universal causality? Obviously not, for the same people who 
affirm causality deny the authorship. They must have intended a difference. 
An illustration is close at hand. God is not the author of this book, as the 
Arminians would be the first to admit; but he is its ultimate cause as the 
Bible teaches. Yet I am the author. Authorship, therefore, is one kind of 
cause, but there are other kinds. The author of a book is its immediate 
cause; God is its ultimate cause. 

This distinction between first and secondary causation - explicitly 
maintained in the Westminster Confession - has not always been 
appreciated, even by those who are in general agreement. John Gill, for 
example, who is so excellent on so much, failed to grasp the distinction 
between the immediate author and the ultimate cause. For this reason 
there are some faulty passages in his otherwise fine work. Such is the 
difficulty of the problem and so confused are the discussions from the time 
of the patristics to the present day, that some of the best Calvinists have 
not extricated themselves completely from Scholastic errors. Not only 
Berkouwer, but even Jonathan Edwards, in spite of Calvin, still spoke about 
God's permission of sin. 

When, accordingly, the discussion comes to God's being the author of sin, 
one must understand the question to be, Is God the immediate cause of 
sin? Or, more clearly, Does God commit sin? This is a question concerning 
God's holiness. Now, it should be evident that God no more commits sin 
than he is writing these words. Although the betrayal of Christ was 
foreordained from eternity as a means of effecting the atonement, it was 
Judas, not God, who betrayed Christ. The secondary causes in history are 
not eliminated by divine causality, but rather they are made certain. And 
the acts of these secondary causes, whether they be righteous acts or 
sinful acts, are to be immediately referred to the agents; and it is these 
agents who are responsible. 

God is neither responsible nor sinful, even though he is the only ultimate 
cause of everything. He is not sinful because in the first place whatever 
God does is just and right. It is just and right simply in virtue of the fact 
that he does it. Justice or righteousness is not a standard external to God 
to which God is obligated to submit. Righteousness is what God does. Since 
God caused Judas to betray Christ, this causal act is righteous and not 
sinful. By definition God cannot sin. At this point it must be particularly 
pointed out that God's causing a man to sin is not sin. There is no law, 

superior to God, which forbids him to decree sinful acts. Sin presupposes a 
law, for sin is lawlessness. Sin is any want of conformity unto or 
transgression of the law of God. But God is "Ex-lex." 

True it is that if a man, a created being, should cause or try to cause 
another man to sin, this attempt would be sinful. The reason is plain. The 
relation of one man to another is entirely different from the relation of God 
to any man. God is the creator; man is a creature. And the relation of a 
man to the law is equally different from the relation of God to the law. 
What holds in the one situation does not hold in the other. God has absolute 
and unlimited rights over all created things. Of the same lump he can make 
one vessel for honor and another for dishonor. The clay has no claims on 
the potter. Among men, on the contrary, rights are limited. 

The idea that God is above law can be explained in another particular. 
The laws that God imposes on men do not apply to the divine nature. They 
are applicable only to human conditions. For example, God cannot steal, not 
only because whatever he does is right, but also because he owns 
everything: There is no one to steal from. Thus the law that defines sin 
envisages human conditions and has no relevance to a sovereign Creator. 

As God cannot sin, so in the next place, God is not responsible for sin, 
even though he decrees it. Perhaps it would be well, before we conclude, to 
give a little more Scriptural evidence that God indeed decrees and causes 
sin. 2 Chronicles 18:20-22 read: 

Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will 
persuade him.” The Lord said to him, “In what way?’ So he said, “I will go out 
and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” And the Lord said, “You 
shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.” Now, therefore, look! The 
Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the Lord 
has declared disaster against you. 

This passage definitely says that the Lord caused the prophets to lie. 
Other similar passages ought easily to come to one's remembrance. But 
that God is not responsible for the sin he causes is a conclusion closely 
connected with the preceding argument. 

Another aspect of the human conditions presupposed by the laws God 
imposes on man is that they carry with them a penalty that cannot be 
inflicted on God. Man is responsible because God calls him to account; man 
is responsible because the supreme power can punish him for disobedience. 
God, on the contrary, cannot be responsible for the plain reason that there 

is no power superior to him; no greater being can hold him accountable; no 
one can punish him; there is no one to whom God is responsible; there are 
no laws which he could disobey. The sinner, therefore, and not God, is 
responsible; the sinner alone is the author of sin. Man has no free will, for 
salvation is purely of grace; and God is sovereign. 

Deo Soli Gloria 

I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides me.... I 
form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil; I, 
the Lord, do all these things.... Woe to him who strives with his Maker! 
... Shall the clay say to him who forms it, "What are you making?".. 
Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel,... I have made the Earth, 
and created man on it. It was I - my hands that stretched out the 
heavens, and all their host I have commanded.... Oh, the depth of the 
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable 
are his judgments and his ways past finding out!... For of him and 
through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. 

[1] John Milton, Paradise Lost. 1-6. 

[2] Augustine, Free Will, I, ii, xvi. 

[3] Augustine, Free Will, III, xviii. 

[4] John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth, III, v, xiii. 

[5] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxiii, 8; II, iv, 3. 

[6] The Works of Augustus Toplady. 1794, 82-83. 

[Z] Toplady, 84. 

[8] Toplady, 87-88. 

[9] Toplady, 93. 

[10] Toplady, 94. 

[11] Toplady, 97. 

[12] Toplady, 98. 

[13] Toplady, 100. 

[14] Toplady, 106-108. 

[15] Of these quotations by Toplady I have verified those I could easily 
find. Others are relatively inaccessible. Since Toplady often gives the Latin 
text, one may hope that he has been accurate. If in some place he has 
made a mistake, it is still proved that the five points did not originate with 
Calvin, much less with the Synod of Dordt. 

[16] For further argument, see Jonathan Edwards, Miscellaneous 
Observations, Part II, chapter 3; 1811 edition, Volume VIII, 384. 

[17] Georgia Harkness, Conflict in Religious Thought, 233-234. 

[18] Stuart Hackett, The Resurrection of Theism, 174. 

[19] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxiii, 2. 

[20] G. C. Berkouwer, Divine Election, 178. 

[21] G. C. Berkouwer, Divine Election, 181. 

[22] G. C. Berkouwer, Divine Election, 194 

[23] G. C. Berkouwer, Divine Election, 190. 

Books by Gordon H. Clark 

Readings in Ethics (1940) 

Selections from Hellenistic Philosophy (1940) 

A History of Philosophy (co-author, 1941) 

A Christian Philosophy of Education, The Works of Gordon Haddon 
Clark, Volume 10 (1946, 2000) 

A Christian View of Men and Things, The Works of Gordon Haddon 
Clark, Volume 1 (1952, 2005) 

What Presbyterians Believe ( 1956) f 11 

Thales to Dewey: A History of Philosophy, The Works of Gordon 
Haddon Clark, Volume 3 (1957, 2000) 

Dewey ( 1960) f 21 

Religion, Reason and Revelation (1961, 1995, 2011)[3] 

William James (1963)2 

Karl Barth's Theological Method (1963, 1997) 

The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (1964, 1996) [41 
What Do Presbyterians Believe? (1965, 1985) 

Peter Speaks Today ( 1967) f 51 

The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark ( 1968) \ 61 

Biblical Predestination (1969)[7] 

Historiography: Secular and Religious (1971, 1994) 

II Peter (1972)5 

The Johannine Logos (1972, 1989) f 8] 

Three Types of Religious Philosophy (1973, 1989)[9] 

First Corinthians (1975, 1991) 

Colossians (1979, 1989 ) \ 101 

Predestination in the Old Testament (1979) f 111 

I and II Peter (1980)1121 

Language and Theology (1980, 1993) £ 131 

First John (1980, 1992) 

God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (1982, 1987, 1995, 2011) 
Behaviorism and Christianity ( 1982) [ 141 
Faith and Saving Faith (1983, 1990) f 151 
In Defense of Theology (1984, 2007) 

The Pastoral Epistles, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, Volume 15 
(1984, 1998) 

The Biblical Doctrine of Man (1984, 1992) 

The Trinity (1985, 1990, 2010) 

Logic (1985, 2005) 

Ephesians ( 1985) f 161 

Clark Speaks from the Grave ( 1986) f 171 

Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism (1986, 1990) f 181 

First 8i Second Thessalonians ( 1986) f 191 

Predestination (1987, 2006) 

The Atonement (1987, 1996) 

The Incarnation (1988) 

Today's Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine? (1990) 

Essays on Ethics and Politics (1992) 

Sanctification (1992) 

New Heavens, New Earth (First and Second Peter) (1980, 1993) 

The Holy Spirit (1993) 

An Introduction to Christian Philosophy (1993) [201, [211 
Lord God of Truth 8i Concerning the Teacher (1994) 

William James and John Dewey (1995)£22] 

God and Evil (1996, 2004) r 231 
Philippians (1996) 

Ancient Philosophy (1997) 

What Is Saving Faith? (2004) 

Christian Philosophy (2004), The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, 
Volume 4 

Commentaries on Paul's Letters (2005), The Works of Gordon Haddon 
Clark, Volume 12 

Modern Philosophy (2008), The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, Volume 

Clark and His Critics (2009), The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, 
Volume 7 

[1] Revised as What Do Presbyterians Believe? (1965) 

[2] Combined as William James and John Dewey (1995); included in Modern 
Philosophy (2007) 

[3] Included in Christian Philosophy (2004) 

[4] Included in Modern Philosophy (2008) 

[5] Combined as I & II Peter (1980) and revised as New Heavens, New 
Earth (1993) 

[6] Included in Clark and His Critics (2009) 

[7] Included in Predestination (1987, 2006) 

[8] Included in What Is Saving Faith? (2004) 

[9] Included in Christian Philosophy (2004) 

[10] Included in Commentaries on Paul's Letters (2005) 

[11] Included in Predestination (1987, 2006) 

[12] Combined as I & II Peter (1980) and revised as New Heavens, New 
Earth (1993) 

[131 Included in Modern Philosophy (2008) 

[14] Included in Modern Philosophy (2008) 

[15] Included in What Is Saving Faith? (2004) 

[16] Included in Commentaries on Paul's Letters (2005) 

[171 Included in Clark and His Critics (2009) 

[18] Included in Commentaries on Paul's Letters (2005) 

[19] Included in Commentaries on Paul's Letters (2005) 

[20] Included in Christian Philosophy (2004) 

[21] Part 1 of The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark 

[22] Included in Modern Philosophy (2008) 

[23] Chapter 5 of Religion, Reason and Revelation 

The Crisis of Our Time 

H istorians have christened the thirteenth century the Age of Faith and 
termed the eighteenth century the Age of Reason. The twentieth century was 
called many things: the Atomic Age, the Age of Inflation, the Age of the Tyrant, 
the Age of Aquarius. But the modern age deserves one name more than the 
others: the Age of Irrationalism. Contemporary intellectuals are anti- intellectual. 
Contemporary philosophers are anti-philosophy. Contemporary theologians are 
anti-theology . 

In past centuries, secular philosophers have generally believed that 
knowledge is possible to man. Consequently they expended a great deal of 
thought and effort trying to justify their claims to know. In the twentieth 
century, however, the optimism of the secular philosophers all but 
disappeared. They despaired of knowing. 

Like their secular counterparts, the great theologians and doctors of the 
church taught that knowledge is possible to man. Yet the theologians of the 
twentieth century repudiated that belief. They also despaired of knowledge. 
This radical skepticism has penetrated our entire culture, from television to 
music to literature. The Christian at the beginning of the twenty-first 
century is confronted with an overwhelming cultural consensus - 
sometimes stated explicitly but most often implicitly: Man does not and 
cannot know anything truly. 

What does this have to do with Christianity? Simply this: If man can 
know nothing truly, man can truly know nothing. We cannot know that the 
Bible is the Word of God, that Christ died for his people, or that Christ is 
alive today at the right hand of the Father. Unless knowledge is possible, 
Christianity is nonsensical, for it claims to be knowledge. What is at stake 
at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not simply a single doctrine, 
such as the virgin birth, or the existence of Hell, as important as those 
doctrines may be, but the whole of Christianity itself. If knowledge is not 
possible to man, it is worse than silly to argue points of doctrine - it is 

The irrationalism of the present age is so thoroughgoing and pervasive 
that even the Remnant - the segment of the professing church that 
remains faithful - has accepted much of it, frequently without even being 
aware of what it is accepting. In some religious circles this irrationalism 
has become synonymous with piety and humility, and those who oppose it 

are denounced as rationalists, as though to be logical were a sin. Our 
contemporary anti-theologians make a contradiction and call it a Mystery. 
The faithful ask for truth and are given Paradox and Antinomy. If any resist 
swallowing the absurdities of the anti-theologians who teach in the 
seminaries or have graduated from the seminaries, they are frequently 
marked as heretics or schismatics who seek to act independently of God. 

There is no greater threat facing the true church of Christ at this 
moment than the irrationalism that now controls our entire culture. 
Totalitarianism, guilty of hundreds of millions of murders - including those 
of millions of Christians - is to be feared, but not nearly so much as the 
idea that we do not and cannot know the literal truth. Hedonism, the 
popular philosophy of America, is not to be feared so much as the belief 
that logic - that "mere human logic," to use the religious irrationalists' own 
phrase - is futile. The attacks on truth, on knowledge, on propositional 
revelation, on the intellect, on words, and on logic are renewed daily. But 
note well: The misologists - the haters of logic - use logic to demonstrate 
the futility of using logic. The anti-intellectuals construct intricate 
intellectual arguments to prove the insufficiency of the intellect. Those who 
deny the competence of words to express thought use words to express 
their thoughts. The proponents of poetry, myth, metaphor, and analogy 
argue for their theories by using literal prose, whose competence - even 
whose possibility - they deny. The anti-theologians use the revealed Word 
of God to show that there can be no revealed Word of God - or that if 
there could, it would remain impenetrable darkness and Mystery to our 
finite minds. 

Nonsense Has Come 

Is it any wonder that the world is grasping at straws - the straws of 
experientialism, mysticism, and drugs? After all, if people are told that the 
Bible contains insoluble mysteries, then is not a flight into mysticism to be 
expected? On what grounds can it be condemned? Certainly not on logical 
grounds or Biblical grounds, if logic is futile and the Bible unintelligible. 
Moreover, if it cannot be condemned on logical or Biblical grounds, it cannot 
be condemned at all. If people are going to have a religion of the 
mysterious, they will not adopt Christianity: They will have a genuine 
mystery religion. The popularity of Roman Catholicism, Eastern mysticism, 
mind-altering drugs, and religious experience is the logical consequence of 

the irrationalism of the twentieth century. There can and will be no 
Christian reformation unless and until the irrationalism of the age is totally 
repudiated by Christians. 

The Church Defenseless 

Yet how shall they do it? The official spokesmen for Christianity have 
been fatally infected with irrationalism. The seminaries, which annually 
train thousands of men to teach millions of Christians, are the finishing 
schools of irrationalism, completing the job begun by government schools 
and colleges. Many of the pulpits of the conservative churches (we are not 
speaking of the obviously apostate churches) are occupied by graduates of 
the anti-theological schools. These products of modern anti-theological 
education, when asked to give a reason for the hope that is in them, can 
generally respond with only the vocal analogue of a shrug - a mumble about 
Mystery. They have not grasped - and therefore cannot teach those for 
whom they are responsible - the first truth: "And you shall know the truth." 
Many, in fact, explicitly deny it, saying that we can possess only "pointers" 
to the truth, or something "similar" to the truth, a mere analogy, but not 
the divine truth itself. Is the impotence of the Christian church a puzzle? Is 
the fascination with Pentecostalism, ritualism, faith healing, Eastern 
Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism - all sensate and anti-intellectual 
religions - among members of conservative churches an enigma? Not when 
one understands the pious nonsense that is purveyed in the name of God in 
the religious colleges and seminaries. 

The Trinity Foundation 

The creators of The Trinity Foundation firmly believe that theology is too 
important to be left to the licensed theologians - the graduates of the 
schools of theology. They have created The Trinity Foundation for the 
express purpose of teaching believers all that the Scriptures contain - not 
warmed over, baptized, non-Christian philosophies. Each member of the 
board of directors of The Trinity Foundation has signed this oath: "I believe 
that the Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety is the Word of God and, 
therefore, inerrant in the autographs. I believe that the system of truth 
presented in the Bible is best summarized in the Westminster Confession 
of Faith. So help me God." 

The ministry of The Trinity Foundation is the presentation of the system 
of truth taught in Scripture as clearly and as completely as possible. We do 

not regard obscurity as a virtue, nor confusion as a sign of spirituality. 
Confusion, like all error, is sin, and teaching that confusion is all that 
Christians can hope for is doubly sin. 

The presentation of the truth of Scripture necessarily involves the 
rejection of error. The Foundation has exposed and will continue to expose 
the irrationalism of the modern age, whether its current spokesman be an 
Existentialist philosopher or a professed Reformed theologian. We oppose 
anti-intellectualism, whether it be espoused by a Neo-orthodox theologian or 
a Fundamentalist evangelist. We reject misology, whether it be on the lips 
of a Neo-evangelical or those of a Roman Catholic Charismatic. We 
repudiate agnosticism, whether it be secular or religious. To each error we 
bring the brilliant light of Scripture, proving all things, and holding fast to 
that which is true. 

The Primacy of Theory 

The ministry of The Trinity Foundation is not a "practical" ministry. If 
you are a pastor, we will not enlighten you on how to organize an 
ecumenical prayer meeting in your community or how to double church 
attendance in a year. If you are a homemaker, you will have to read 
elsewhere to find out how to become a total woman. If you are a 
businessman, we will not tell you how to develop a social conscience. The 
professing church is drowning in such "practical" advice. 

The Trinity Foundation is unapologetically theoretical in its outlook, 
believing that theory without practice is dead, and that practice without 
theory is blind. The trouble with the professing church is not primarily in its 
practice, but in its theory. Professing Christians and teachers do not know, 
and many do not even care to know, the doctrines of Scripture. Doctrine is 
intellectual, and professing Christians are generally anti-intellectual. 
Doctrine is ivory-tower philosophy, and they scorn ivory towers. The ivory 
tower, however, is the control tower of a civilization. It is a fundamental, 
theoretical mistake of the "practical" men to think that they can be merely 
practical, for practice is always the practice of some theory. The 
relationship between theory and practice is the relationship between cause 
and effect. If a person believes correct theory, his practice will tend to be 
correct. The practice of contemporary professing Christians is immoral 
because it is the practice of false theories. It is a major theoretical 
mistake of the "practical" men to think that they can ignore the ivory 
towers of the philosophers and theologians as irrelevant to their lives. Every 

action that "practical" men take is governed by the thinking that has 
occurred in some ivory tower - whether that tower be the British Museum; 
the Academy; a home in Basel, Switzerland; or a tent in Israel. 

In Understanding Be Men 

It is the first duty of the Christian to understand correct theory - correct 
doctrine - and thereby implement correct practice. This order - first 
theory, then practice - is both logical and Biblical. It is, for example, 
exhibited in Paul's Epistle to the Romans, in which he spends the first 
eleven chapters expounding theory and the last five discussing practice. The 
contemporary teachers of Christians have not only reversed the Biblical 
order, they have inverted the Pauline emphasis on theory and practice. The 
virtually complete failure of the teachers of the professing church to 
instruct believers in correct doctrine is the cause of the misconduct and 
spiritual and cultural impotence of Christians. The church's lack of power is 
the result of its lack of truth. The Gospel is the power of God, not religious 
experiences or personal relationships. The church has no power because it 
has abandoned the Gospel, the good news, for a religion of experientialism. 
Modern American Christians are children carried about by every wind of 
doctrine, not knowing what they believe, or even if they believe anything for 

The chief purpose of The Trinity Foundation is to counteract the 
irrationalism of the age and to expose the errors of the teachers of the 
church. Our emphasis - on the Bible as the sole source of knowledge, on 
the primacy of truth, on the supreme importance of correct doctrine, and 
on the necessity for systematic and logical thinking - is rare. To the extent 
that the church survives - and she will survive and flourish - it will be 
because of her increasing acceptance of these basic ideas and their logical 

We believe that The Trinity Foundation is filling a vacuum. We are saying 
that Christianity is intellectually defensible - that, in fact, it is the only 
intellectually defensible system of thought. We are saying that God has 
made the wisdom of this world - whether that wisdom be called science, 
religion, philosophy, or common sense - foolishness. We are appealing to all 
Christians who have not conceded defeat in the intellectual battle with the 
world to join us in our efforts to raise a standard to which all men of sound 
mind can repair. 

The love of truth, of God's Word, has all but disappeared in our time. We 

are committed to and pray for a great instauration. But though we may not 
see this reformation in our lifetimes, we believe it is our duty to present 
the whole counsel of God because Christ has commanded it. The results of 
our teaching are in God's hands, not ours. Whatever those results, his Word 
is never taught in vain, but always accomplishes the result that he intended 
it to accomplish. Gordon H. Clark has stated our view well: 

There have been times in the history of God’s people, for example, in the 
days of Jeremiah, when refreshing grace and widespread revival were not to be 
expected: The time was one of chastisement. If this twentieth century is of a 
similar nature, individual Christians here and there can find comfort and strength 
in a study of God’s Word. But if God has decreed happier days for us, and if we 
may expect a world-shaking and genuine spiritual awakening, then it is the 
author’s belief that a zeal for souls, however necessary, is not the sufficient 
condition. Have there not been devout saints in every age, numerous enough to 
carry on a revival? Twelve such persons are plenty . What distinguishes the arid 
ages from the period of the Reformation, when nations were moved as they had 
not been since Paul preached in Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome, is the latter’s 
fullness of knowledge of God’s Word. To echo an early Reformation thought, 
when the ploughman and the garage attendant know the Bible as well as the 
theologian does, and know it better than some contemporary theologians, then the 
desired awakening shall have already occurred. 

In addition to publishing books, The Foundation publishes a monthly 
newsletter, The Trinity Review. Subscriptions to The Review are free to 
U.S. addresses; please write to the address on the book order form to 
become a subscriber. If you would like further information or would like to 
assist us in our work, please let us know. 

The Trinity Foundation is a non-profit foundation, tax exempt under 
section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. You can help us 
disseminate the Word of God through your tax-deductible contributions to 
The Foundation. 

John W. Robbins 

Intellectual Ammunition 

T he Trinity Foundation is committed to bringing every philosophical and 
theological thought captive to Christ. The books listed below are designed to 
accomplish that goal. They are written with two subordinate purposes: (1) to 
demolish all non-Christian claims to knowledge; and (2) to build a system of truth 
based upon the Bible alone. 

Ancient Philosophy 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $24.95 

This book covers the thousand years from the Pre-Socratics to 
Plotinus. It represents some of the early work of Dr. Clark - the work 
that made his academic reputation. It is an excellent college text. 

Christ and Civilization 
John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $5.95 

Civilization as we know it is a result of the widespread proclamation 
and belief of the Gospel of justification by faith alone in the sixteenth 
century. Christ foretold this result in the Sermon on the Mount : "Seek 
first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things 
will be added to you." This brief overview of the history of western 
civilization makes it clear that our cultural debt is to the Gospel, not to 
Greece and Rome. 

Christian Philosophy 
Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 

This book, Volume 4 in The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, combines 
three of his most important works in philosophy: Three Types of 
Religious Philosophy; Religion, Reason and Revelation; and An 
Introduction to Christian Philosophy. Together they constitute Dr. 
Clark's principal statement of his Christian philosophy. 

A Christian Philosophy of Education 

Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $18.95 
Trade paperback $12.95 

The first edition of this book was published in 1946. It sparked 
interest in Christian schools. In the 1970s, Dr. Clark thoroughly revised 
and updated it, and it is needed now more than ever. Its chapters 
include: The Need for a World-View; The Christian World-View; The 
Alternative to Christian Theism; Neutrality; Ethics; The Christian 
Philosophy of Education; Academic Matters; and Kindergarten to 
University. Three appendices are included: The Relationship of Public 
Education to Christianity; A Protestant World-View; and Art and the 
Gospel. It is Volume 12 in The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark. 

A Christian View of Men and Things 
Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 

No other book achieves what A Christian View does: the presentation 
of Christianity as it applies to history, politics, ethics, science, religion, 
and epistemology. Dr. Clark's command of both worldly philosophy and 
Scripture is evident on every page, and the result is a breathtaking and 
invigorating challenge to the wisdom of this world. This is Volume 1 in 
The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark. 

Clark and His Critics 
Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 

This book, Volume 7 in The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, combines 
two separate books: The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, first published 
in 1968, and Clark Speaks from the Grave, first published in 1986. In 
this volume Clark answers all objections to his philosophy of 
Scripturalism and chides his critics for their incompetent defenses of 
the Christian faith. 

Clark Speaks from the Grave 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $3.95 

Dr. Clark chicles some of his critics for their failure to defend 
Christianity competently. Clark Speaks is a stimulating and illuminating 
discussion of the errors of contemporary apologists. 

See also Clark and His Critics. 

Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the 

Roman Catholic Church 

John W. Robbins 

Hardback $29.95 

Trade paperback $19.95 

This detailed and thorough analysis and critique of the social 
teaching of the Roman Church-State is the only such book available by 
a Christian economist and political philosopher. The book's conclusions 
reveal the Roman Church-State to be an advocate of its own brand of 
faith-based fascism. Ecclesiastical Megalomania includes the complete 
text of the Donation of Constantine and Lorenzo Valla's expose of the 

Education, Christianity, and the State 
J. Gresham Machen 
Trade paperback $10.95 

Machen was one of the foremost educators, theologians, and 
defenders of Christianity in the twentieth century. The author of 
several scholarly books, Machen saw clearly that if Christianity is to 
survive and flourish, a system of Christian schools must be 
established. This collection of essays and speeches captures his 
thoughts on education over nearly three decades. 

Essays on Ethics and Politics 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $10.95 

Dr. Clark's essays, written over the course of five decades, are a 
major statement of Christian ethics. 

Freedom and Capitalism: Essays on Christian Economics and Politics 
John W. Robbins 
Hardback $29.95 

The Biblical model for limited government and a free society - the 
state the Holy Spirit describes in Romans 13 and 1 Samuel 8 - is 
despised by both Christians and non-Christians, who think they have a 
moral mandate to force others to be "charitable" and "Christian." This 
book is a collection of 31 essays that defend laissez-faire capitalism 
and constitutional government, the only moral system of economics 
and government. Topics covered include the draft, foreign policy, health 
care, taxation, monetary policy, faith-based welfare, the separation of 
church and state, and much more. 

Gordon H. Clark: Personal Recollections 
John W. Robbins, Editor 
Trade paperback $6.95 

Friends of Dr. Clark have written their recollections of the man. 
Contributors include family members, colleagues, students, and friends 
such as Harold Lindsell, Carl Henry, Ronald Nash, and Anna Marie 

Historiography: Secular and Religious 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $13.95 

In this masterful work, Dr. Clark applies his philosophy to the writing 
of history, examining all the major schools of historiography. 

Language and Theology 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $9.95 

There were two main currents in twentieth-century philosophy - 
Language Philosophy and Existentialism. Both were hostile to 
Christianity. Dr. Clark disposes of Language Philosophy in this brilliant 
critique of Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, AJ. 
Ayer, Langdon Gilkey, and many others. 

See also Modern Philosophy. 


Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $16.95 

Written as a textbook for Christian schools, Logic is another unique 
book from Dr. Clark's pen. His presentation of the laws of thought, 
which must be followed if Scripture is to be understood correctly, and 
which are found in Scripture itself, is both clear and thorough. Logic is 
an indispensable book for the thinking Christian. 

Lord God of Truth, Concerning the Teacher 
Gordon H. Clark, Aurelius Augustine 
Trade paperback $7.95 

This essay by Dr. Clark summarizes many of the most telling 
arguments against empiricism and defends the Biblical teaching that 
we know God and truth immediately. The dialogue by Augustine is a 
refutation of empirical language philosophy. 

Modern Philosophy 
Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 

This book, Volume 5 in The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, combines 
five separate books: The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, 
Behaviorism and Christianity, Language and Theology, William James, 
and John Dewey. 

Religion, Reason and Revelation 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $12.95 

One of Dr. Clark's apologetical masterpieces, Religion, Reason and 
Revelation has been praised for the clarity of its thought and language. 
It includes these chapters: Is Christianity a Religion? Faith and 
Reason; Inspiration and Language; Revelation and Morality; and God 
and Evil. It is must reading for all serious Christians. 

See also Christian Philosophy. 

The Scripturalism of Gordon H. Clark 
W. Gary Crampton 
Trade paperback $9.95 

Dr. Crampton has written an introduction to the philosophy of Gordon 

H. Clark that is helpful to both beginners and advanced students of 
theology. This book includes a bibliography of Dr. Clark's works. 

Thales to Dewey: A History of Philosophy 
Gordon H. Clark 
Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 

This is the best one-volume history of philosophy in print. It is 
Volume 3 in The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark. 

William James and John Dewey 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $8.95 

William James and John Dewey are two of the most influential 
philosophers America has produced. Their philosophies of 
Instrumentalism and Pragmatism are hostile to Christianity, and Dr. 
Clark demolishes their arguments. 

See also Modern Philosophy. 

Without A Prayer: Ayn Rand and the Close of Her System 
John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $19.95 

Ayn Rand has been a best-selling author since 1957. Without A 
Prayer discusses Objectivism's epistemology, theology, ethics, and 
politics in detail. Appendices include analyses of books by Leonard 
Peikoff and David Kelley, as well as several essays on Christianity and 


Against the Churches: The Trinity Review 1989-1998 
John W. Robbins, Editor 
Oversize hardback $39.95 

This is the second volume of 77 essays from The Trinity Review, 
covering its second ten years, 1989-1998. This volume, like the first, is 
fully indexed and is very useful in research and in the classroom. 
Authors include Gordon Clark, Charles Hodge, J. C. Ryle, Horatius Bonar, 
and Robert L. Dabney. 

Against the World: The Trinity Review 1978-1988 
John W. Robbins, Editor 
Oversize hardback $34.95 

This is a clothbound collection of the essays published in The Trinity 
Review from 1978 to 1988, 70 in all. Fully indexed, it is a valuable 
source of information and arguments explaining and defending 

The Atonement 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $8.95 

In The Atonement, Dr. Clark discusses the covenants, the virgin birth 
and incarnation, federal headship and representation, the relationship 
between God's sovereignty and justice, and much more. He analyzes 
traditional views of the atonement and criticizes them in the light of 
Scripture alone. 

The Biblical Doctrine of Man 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $6.95 

Is man soul and body or soul, spirit, and body? What is the image of 
God? Is Adam's sin imputed to his children? Is evolution true? Are 
men totally depraved? What is the heart? These are some of the 
questions discussed and answered from Scripture in this book. 

By Scripture Alone 
W. Gary Crampton 
Trade paperback $12.95 

This is a clear and thorough explanation of the Scriptural doctrine of 
Scripture and a refutation of the recent Romanist attack on Scripture 
as the Word of God. 

Can the Presbyterian Church in America Be Saved? 

Sean Gerety 
Trade paperback $9.95 

This book demonstrates the PCA's failure to deal with the Federal 
Vision heresy in its midst. This failure stems from the Vantilianism of 

most of its leaders. 

Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Be Saved? 

John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $3.95 

This small book, which demonstrates the central errors of OPC 
history and theology since the 1940s, is an alarm to awaken members 
of the OPC from their slumbers. 

The Changing of the Guard 
Mark W. Karl berg 
Trade paperback $3.95 

This essay is a critical discussion of Westminster Seminary's anti- 
Reformational and un-Biblical teaching on the doctrine of justification. 
Dr. Karl berg exposes the doctrine of justification by faith and works - 
not sola fide - taught at Westminster Seminary for the past 30 years, 
by Professors Norman Shepherd, Richard Gaffin, John Frame, and 

Christianity and Neo- Liberal ism: The Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox 

Presbyterian Church and Beyond 

Paul M. Elliott 

Trade paperback $19.95 

This massively-documented book details the influence Westminster 
Theological Seminary has had on the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and 
other churches and organizations. It is both a work of theological 
analysis and a call to action. 

The Church Effeminate 
John W. Robbins, Editor 
Hardback $29.95 

This is a collection of 39 essays by the best theologians of the 
church on the doctrine of the church: Martin Luther, John Calvin, 
Benjamin Warfield, Gordon Clark, J.C. Ryle, and many more. The essays 
cover the structure, function, and purpose of the church. 

The Clark-Van Til Controversy 
Herman Hoeksema 

Trade paperback $9.95 

This collection of essays by the founder of the Protestant Reformed 
Churches - essays written at the time of the Clark-Van Til controversy 
in the 1940s - is one of the best commentaries on those events in 

A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy 
John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $9.95 

This book includes documentary source material not available in The 
Current Justification Controversy, an essay tracing the origins and 
continuation of this controversy throughout American Presbyterian 
churches, and an essay on the New Perspective on Paul by Robert L. 

Cornelius Van Til: The Man and The Myth 
John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $2.45 

The actual teachings of this eminent Philadelphia theologian have 
been obscured by the myths that surround him. This book penetrates 
those myths and criticizes Van Til's surprisingly unorthodox views of 
God and the Bible. 

Counterfeit Miracles: A Defense of Divine Miracles Against Pagan, Medieval, 
and Modern Marvels 
Benjamin B. Warfield 
Trade paperback $19.95 

This book contains the 1918 lectures delivered by Professor Warfield 
of Princeton Seminary. It is more timely today than it was 90 years 

The Current Justification Controversy 
0. Palmer Robertson 
Trade paperback $9.95 

From 1975 to 1982 a controversy over justification raged within 
Westminster Theological Seminary and the Philadelphia Presbytery of 
the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. As a member of the faculties of 
both Westminster and Covenant Seminaries during this period, 0. 

Palmer Robertson was an important participant in this controversy. 
This is his account of the controversy, vital background for 
understanding the defection from the Gospel that is now widespread in 
American Presbyterian churches. 

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Dr. Richard B. Gaffin Jr.'s Doctrine of 


Stephen M. Cunha 

Trade paperback $9.95 

This book exposes Richard Gaffin's erroneous teaching on the 
doctrine of justification. 

For the King: The Trinity Review 1999-2008 
Thomas W. Juodaitis, John W. Robbins, Editors 
Oversize hardback $39.95 

This is the third volume of 83 essays from The Trinity Review, 
covering its third ten years, 1999-2008. This volume, like the first two, 
is fully indexed and is very useful in research and in the classroom. 
Authors include Gordon Clark, W. Gary Crampton, J. Gresham Machen, 
Robert L. Reymond, and John W. Robbins. 

God and Evil: The Problem Solved 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $5.95 

This volume is Chapter 5 of Religion, Reason and Revelation, in 
which Dr. Clark presents the Biblical solution to the problem of evil. 

God-Breathed: The Divine Inspiration of the Bible 

Louis Gaussen 

Trade paperback $16.95 

Gaussen, a nineteenth-century Swiss Reformed pastor, comments on 
hundreds of passages in which the Bible claims to be the Word of God. 
This is a massive defense of the doctrine of the plenary and verbal 
inspiration of Scripture. 

God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $12.95 

The starting point of Christianity, the doctrine on which all other 
doctrines depend, is "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is 
the Word of God written, and, therefore, inerrant in the autographs." 
Over the centuries the opponents of Christianity, with Satanic 
shrewdness, have concentrated their attacks on the truthfulness and 
completeness of the Bible. In the twentieth century the attack was not 
so much in the fields of history and archaeology as in philosophy. Dr. 
Clark's brilliant defense of the complete truthfulness of the Bible is 
captured in this collection of eleven major essays. 

The Holy Spirit 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $8.95 

This discussion of the third person of the Trinity is both concise and 
exact. Dr. Clark includes chapters on the work of the Spirit, 
sanctification, and Pentecostal ism. 

Imagining a Vain Thing: The Decline and Fall of Knox Seminary 
Steven T. Matthews 
Trade paperback $10.95 

This expose by a former Knox student demonstrates how neglecting 
the historical grammatical interpretation of the Reformation can lead 
to all sorts of fanciful eisegesis and ultimately heresy. A case in point 
is Warren Gage and the controversy surrounding his medieval 
interpretation taught at Knox Theological Seminary. 

Imperious Presbyterianism 
Kevin Reed 

Trade paperback $5.95 

Contemporary Presbyterianism, even "conservative" Presbyterianism, 
is not historic Presbyterianism. Instead, it is an authoritarian substitute 
for the system of church government taught by the Bible and the 
Reformers. Reed discusses the nature of the church, the ministry, 
church membership, and ecclesiastical authority. 

In Defense of Theology 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $9.95 

In this book Dr. Clark addresses several groups of people who 
oppose Christian theology: atheists, the Neo-orthodox, and the 
Uninterested. All three hold a common opinion: Truth and theology have 
nothing to do with each other. Dr. Clark demonstrates that theology is 
truth, and as thoroughly intellectual as astrophysics - and a lot less 

The Incarnation 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $8.95 

Who is Christ? The attack on the doctrine of the Incarnation in the 
nineteenth and twentieth centuries was vigorous, but the orthodox 
response was lame. Dr. Clark reconstructs the doctrine of the 
Incarnation, building and improving upon the Chalcedonian definition. 

The Johannine Logos 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $5.95 

Dr. Clark analyzes the relationship between Christ, who is the truth, 
and the Bible. He explains why John used the same word to refer to 
both Christ and his teaching. Chapters deal with the Prologue to John's 
Gospel; Logos and Rheemata; Truth; and Saving Faith. 

See also What Is Saving Faith? 

Karl Barth's Theological Method 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $18.95 

Karl Barth's Theological Method is perhaps the best critique of the 
Neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth ever written. Dr. Clark discusses 
Barth's view of revelation, language, and Scripture, focusing on his 
method of writing theology, rather than presenting a comprehensive 
analysis of the details of Barth's theology. 

Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $3.25 

Dr. Clark's acute mind enables him to demonstrate the 

inconsistencies, assumptions, and flights of fancy that characterize the 
science of New Testament criticism. 

See also Commentaries on Paul's Letters. 

Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in "Reformed" Churches 
John Robbins and Sean Gerety 
Trade paperback $9.95 

This book is a response to and refutation of Douglas Wilson's book 
"Reformed" Is Not Enough: Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant. 
Wilson, one of the leading figures in the Neolegalist movement in 
Reformed and Presbyterian circles, attacked covenant theology and 
proposed a "visible, photographable" covenant that one enters by ritual 
baptism, making one a Christian. Wilson's "salvation" can be lost by 
one's own lackluster performance or nullified by actions of authorized 
representatives of the organized church. This refutation of Wilson is a 
defense of the Gospel and the Covenant of Grace. 

Not What My Hands Have Done 
Charles Hodge, Horatius Bonar 
Trade paperback $16.95 

This is the combined edition of Justification by Faith Alone (by 
Hodge) and The Everlasting Righteousness (by Bonar). Combined, these 
books offer both an introduction to and an in-depth discussion of the 
central doctrine of Christianity, justification by faith alone. 

Papal Power: Its Origins and Development 
Henry T. Hudson 
Trade paperback $12.95 

The origins and growth of an absolute monarchy claiming to be the 
only genuine church of Jesus Christ is a story few Christians know - to 
their great danger and detriment. This monograph is an excellent 
discussion of the totalitarian Roman Catholic Church-State in the 
Middle Ages, and its flourishing in the 21st Century. 

Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $12.95 

Dr. Clark thoroughly discusses one of the most controversial and 
pervasive doctrines of the Bible: that God is, quite literally, Almighty. 
Free will, the origin of evil, God's omniscience, creation, and the new 
birth are all presented within a Scriptural framework. The objections of 
those who do not believe in Almighty God are considered and refuted. 
This edition also contains the text of the booklet, Predestination in the 
Old Testament. 

Sacramental Sorcery: The Invalidity of Roman Catholic Baptism 
James H. Thornwell 
Trade paperback $12.95 

In 1845 the General Assembly of the American Presbyterian Church 
declared that Roman Catholic baptism is not Christian baptism. Its 
almost unanimous decision was immediately attacked by Charles 
Hodge of Princeton Seminary. Thornwell wrote this defense of the 1845 
decision, and Hodge never published a reply. Thornwell's book still 
stands today, 160 years later, as the unrefuted argument 
demonstrating the invalidity of Roman Catholic baptism. This book is 
must reading for all Christians, especially for those proclaiming the 
Gospel to Roman Catholics. 

Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $8.95 

In this book Dr. Clark discusses historical theories of sanctification, 
the sacraments, and the Biblical doctrine of sanctification. 

Slavery and Christianity: Paul's Letter to Philemon 
John W. Robbins 
Trade paperback $6.95 

For centuries the Bible has been twisted into a defense of slavery, 
but Paul's letter to the slaveholder Philemon is clearly a document 
endorsing freedom. Onesimus returns to Philemon "no longer as a 
slave," but as a free man. 

Study Guide to the Westminster Confession 
W. Gary Crampton 
Oversize paperback $10.95 

This Study Guide can be used by individuals or classes. It contains a 
paragraph-by-paragraph summary of the Westminster Confession, and 
questions for the student to answer. Space for answers is provided. 
The Guide will be most beneficial when used in conjunction with Dr. 
Clark's What Do Presbyterians Believe? 

A Theology of the Holy Spirit 

Frederick Dale Bruner Trade paperback $16.95 

First published in 1970, this book has been hailed by reviewers as 
"thorough," "fair," "comprehensive," "devastating," "the most significant 
book on the Holy Spirit," and "scholarly." Gordon Clark described this 
book in his own book The Holy Spirit as "a masterly and exceedingly 
well researched exposition of Pentecostalism. The documentation is 
superb, as is also his penetrating analysis of their non-Scriptural and 
sometimes contradictory conclusions." Unfortunately, the book is 
marred by the author's sacramentarianism. 

The Trinity 
Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $12.95 

Apart from the doctrine of Scripture, no teaching of the Bible is 
more fundamental than the doctrine of God. Dr. Clark's defense of the 
orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is a principal portion of his systematic 
theology. There are chapters on the Deity of Christ; Augustine; the 
Incomprehensibility of God; Bavinck and Van Til; and the Holy Spirit; 
among others. 

What Calvin Says 
W. Gary Crampton 
Trade paperback $10.95 

This is a clear, readable, and thorough introduction to the theology of 
John Calvin. 

What Do Presbyterians Believe? 

Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $10.95 

This classic is the best commentary on the Westminster Confession 
of Faith ever written. 

What Is Saving Faith? 

Gordon H. Clark 
Trade paperback $12.95 

This is the combined edition of Faith and Saving Faith and The 
Johannine Logos. The views of the Roman Catholic Church, John Calvin, 
Thomas Manton, John Owen, Charles Hodge, and B.B. Warfield are 
discussed in this book. Is the object of faith a person or a proposition? 
Is faith more than belief? Is belief thinking with assent, as Augustine 
said? In a world chaotic with differing views of faith, Dr. Clark clearly 
explains the Biblical view of faith and saving faith. 

In The Johannine Logos, Dr. Clark analyzes the relationship between 
Christ, who is the truth, and the Bible. He explains why John used the 
same word to refer to both Christ and his teaching. Chapters deal with 
the Prologue to John's Gospel; Logos and Rheemata; Truth; and Saving 

Clark’s Commentaries on the New Testament 

Trade paperback $6.95 

Commentaries on Paul's Letters (Colossians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 
Thessalonians, Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism) 

Hardback $29.95 
Trade paperback $21.95 
First Corinthians 
Trade paperback $10.95 
First John 

Trade paperback $10.95 

New Heavens, New Earth (First and Second Peter) 

Trade paperback $10.95 

The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) 

Trade paperback $21.95 

Trade paperback $9.95 

All of Dr. Clark's commentaries are expository, not technical, and are 
written for the Christian layman. His purpose is to explain the text clearly 
and accurately so that the Word of God will be thoroughly known by every 


The Trinity Library 

We will send you one copy of each of the 62 books listed above 
(excluding single volumes included in combined works) for $600 (retail value 
over $ 900), postpaid to any address in the United States. You may also 
order the books you want individually on the order form on the next page. 
Because some of the books are in short supply, we must reserve the right 
to substitute others of equal or greater value in The Trinity Library. This 
special offer expires October 31, 2014.